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!

Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Family Room Decorated

Except for Girl Scout cookies and Boy Scout popcorn or Christmas greenery, we do not answer the door for any solicitation period. So when Trevor, the neighbor Boy Scout, knocked on our door to sell some of his wares for the holidays, I was all in. Last year I bought the same little (real) Christmas trees. They come with the lights, pinecones and garland too. 

I'm thinking this is enough in decorating the family room. I'll add a Christmas quilt for good measure. Keeping it easy. Keeping it simple.




Monday, November 29, 2021

November Sunsets

Those who have read my blog over the last almost 10 years know that I love me a good sunset. Sunrises aren't too shabby either, but an all out blaze of riotous color really gets my attention. Of all the months in a year, though, I've been a huge fan of January sunsets. However, over the last couple of years, they haven't been as stellar as in years past. 

Twenty-nine days ago in walks November of 2021. Sunny skies (mostly) with dropping temps and humidity have led to beautiful awe-inspiring sunsets throughout the entire month. Today's photo is from a sunset last week (tonight's was good too, but was on a zoom call and couldn't get outside in time to capture it). 



Sunday, November 28, 2021

Visitors: From DC to Annapolis to Baltimore

It's always great to be a touring in your hometown. Luckily we live in an area to explore various parts of the metro areas including The Mall in Washington DC, Downtown Annapolis, MD and the NFL game - Baltimore Ravens vs. Cleveland Browns in Baltimore, MD. I did all the touristy things with the gang except the football game (Bill went with Ryan from our family). When two out of three nephews brought their girlfriends, checking out all three areas became a priority. We were happy to oblige as much as we could. 

I'm thankful that it seemed everyone had a great time. Making new memories were key to hosting the weekend and I look forward to more fun during this holiday season.



The Kocan's in Annapolis

The Cousins in DC

Heading to the game

Friday, November 26, 2021

Thanksgiving Friday Celebration

Lots of families try to see either both sides of the family, split holidays or do both for the big holidays like Thanksgiving. Easier when you all live in the same hometown. That was what happened for us in Crofton this year after a year of skipping last year due to the pandemic. With both our families in Cleveland, Ohio, we tend to spend holidays there. But for the past 25 years (except 2020) we host the Turkey Day Holiday in Maryland.

I have to admit it was a blast to have a full house of Turkey Day revelers in celebration of the season of gratitude. A full dozen of us ate delicious food made mostly by Ryan, played games (with prizes) and danced! Creating more memories with a few new people (girlfriends/boyfriend) made the day(s) even sweeter. 

I am thankful for a full heart, a full refrigerator of good food and wonderful family/friends to share it all with. 



The Gang: L-R: Shana, Taylor, Olivia, Me (very windy), Ryan
Brandon, Nathan, Kimberly, Bill, Bo
Justin and Jerry 

Thursday, November 25, 2021

Happy Thanksgiving 2021! IN Person!

Happy Thanksgiving in the USA. This will be a shorty today.

We will have a dozen Thanksgiving revelers sitting around my dining room table…tomorrow (I had to move my sewing machine and all my supplies, but my computer is still at the edge…packing it up soon!).

There are drivers and flyers (from Ohio) and locals coming to eat turkey, play games (with prizes) and watch either football or holiday movies. Three have already arrived, so this post has to be quick. They are talking as I craft this, so I must get back to them ASAP. (Is it rude that I left them in the kitchen to write?) I had to quilt before they got here and clean up the house!

Gobble Gobble!

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

The "Thankies" Continued

It’s a very powerful thing this Thankfulness Week (in USA). My mind is all over the place in recognizing the good/“thankies" that oozes from many facets of life. Of course, it’s not all a bed of roses, but to pull out a memory or a fleeting thought of something good, if not great, is not that hard at all. Take for instance: health.

My Dad, who was not a talker, used to say when he would get a chance, that if you have your health, you have everything. Oh, how true that is. As I age, I marvel at that wisdom. Today, I am grateful beyond words on my son’s current health, and now, my own. Those excruciating weeks between surgeries for me earlier this year on what cancer I actually had wore my down something fierce. Plus, I was trying to get The Focused Fight out into the world. Two worlds colliding, but I had to gut through it with no complaining. At. All.

All I can say is that my health was in jeopardy. I couldn’t possibly have “everything,” not that I wanted “everything” accept good health, because to me That is Everything.

I’m so THANKFUL for the diagnosis (Uterine Cancer- Stage 1A) that so far only required surgery (intense as that was!). When I reflect back on just eight or nine months ago, I cannot believe it was me going through what I had to do to get to the other side of... health. Hubby Bill was a saint to keep me down and heal properly. He knew (I knew too, but...) that I needed to rest, rest, rest to fully recover and not take anything for granted in the healing department. He, and we, followed the instructions to to the letter. I'm grateful that he "sat" on me so I could be where I am today. 

So cheers to good health for you and your loved ones, today and every single day.

I think I’ll have a chocolate chip cookie (CCC) to celebrate because one can never underestimate the power of a CCC.

Safe travels to those getting on the highways and byways (and airways) this week to celebrate one of my favorite holidays of the year - Thanksgiving! 

Gobble Gobble!


Thanksgiving 2015 with the Nolan side of the family in Crofton, Maryland!

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

My Mom's 90th (Heavenly) Birthday!

Marching forward with THANKS, to the woman who gave me life, Sophie (Zosia nee: Borkowski) Nolan, who would have been 90 years old today. She didn’t make it. She passed during the first wave of Covid before vaccinations at her nursing home at age 88.

Truthfully, we lost her about 12 -15 years prior when she began down the road of dementia. Hers was a brutal battle that no one should have to fight. She also led a very tough life. A depression baby she witnessed her brothers getting bigger and better meals than she and her sisters; watched her Polish speaking parents fight and argue continuously - coupled with alcoholism (father) - and a whole bunch of other family drama. 

She had to lean on resilience to get through her life, though still had problems. Frankly, who doesn't?

While I was writing The Focused Fight I kept thinking about my Mom and her indomitable strength and will that trickled down to me and my sisters, and her grandchildren, most notably, her eldest grandson, Ryan. He, too, fought huge battles (childhood and adult cancers). Though their circumstances on what resilience did for them were way different, the remaining vestiges of what it takes to get through adversity remains the same.
They both gut it all out day after day. They showed me and others how to live to the best of their “lot” and abilities. 

I am grateful for the woman who gave me life: Mom. Happy 90th Birthday to one tough cookie who probably is zooming around heaven in her turquoise Chevy and dressed in her matching turquoise suit - a hot ticket for sure!
June 2018

Monday, November 22, 2021

Zoom Presentation at Adelphi University!

Today, hubby Bill and I presented a Zoom talk regarding Post traumatic growth (and gains) to a class called Learning to Lead at Adelphi University in Garden City, New York. We've done a couple of in-person talks in the last few years, but last year and this year by Zoom. Last year at this time my book, The Focused Fight, was still in the writing stages. It was great to highlight some of the passages and the ideas from the book on the power of connection/community that resonated well with the college freshmen in the class. 

What we have learned over the last 25 years, is that when anyone is in a crisis, (2) things are needed:

1) Empathy

2) Wholeheartedness

Bill and I showed a slide deck of several family photos through the years (the good, bad and ugly); plus conveyed the need for someone to understand the emotions that are overpowering to an individual or family going through a traumatic event. We all can benefit when someone listens hard to how we are feeling, and then lead a life being non-judgmental. It's a win-win that way.

In addition to the empathy and wholeheartedness of telling our story, we discussed practical tips to help people during challenging times: mowing the yard, baking cookies or brownies, walking a dog, or buying a pizza on a Friday night. Easy small things that are not hard, but oh so welcome to the recipient. One big item discussed was the National Bone Marrow Program, now called: BeTheMatch Registry. Hosting a drive at the University or seeking out a cheek swab event to save a life would be awesome. The sky's the limit on how people can help people, even college freshmen. They are our future leaders.

A huge shout of THANK YOU to Professors Mary Jean McCarthy and Lisa Minnicozzi for their insight and impact they provide their students every single day, and giving us the opportunity to speak with their outstanding students hailing from all over the USA.



A plate of brownies for someone going through a rough patch is an easy thing to do! I posted a similar photo two months ago. I don't like to duplicate photos, but I think today it is warranted to show how to helping others with a simple tray of cookies or brownies can go a long way. 

Sunday, November 21, 2021

Love in the Cold Chicago Air!

Oh, what a night...late November in 2021 with the Gage and Munyon families. We had a terrific night celebrating the wedding of Samantha (Sammy) and John Munyon. They got married last year during Covid lockdown, so tonight was the big party to celebrate with many of their families and friends who could not attend the small affair hosted last year in the Gages' back yard (St. Charles, IL). 

What a difference a year makes.

Hosts Jim and Deanna Gage who we met years ago when they lived in Crofton, Maryland, for about five years, met the challenge of coordinating two events in the same amount of years to a thrilled bride and groom, as well as their guests. 

Love was well represented toward the couple through a mix of wonderful guests in the Gage's and Munyon's lives. In addition, Love was definitely in the air and couldn't be sweeter to shine the light on the most positive recently married couple in all of Chicagoland (we listened closely to all the speeches that said as much!). 

Cheers to Sammy and John! May you share a lifetime of happiness and wedded bliss every step of the way.



Bride and Groom

With our hosts: Jim & Deanna Gage

With bride Sammy Munyon 

Friday, November 19, 2021

Chicago; My Kind of Town for a Wedding Weekend!

Chicago, or affectionately called Chi-Town, is an awesome city. The downtown area is ripe with energy and excitement as soon as one steps off the train, out of an Uber or out of the hotel doors. We are here to celebrate with the Gage family (Deanna and Jim) the wedding reception for their daughter, Samantha (Sam/Sammy) and her bridegroom, John Munyon. Thankfully, we got here a day earlier to march around town like champs and to make our fitness apps proud! 

Everywhere you look there are lights strung just about everywhere, especially on the Magnificent Mile (Michigan Avenue), where holiday festivities are underway. In fact, tomorrow, Disney is having their huge annual parade down the Magnificent Mile right by our hotel. In a good customer service move, the hotel notified its guests a few days prior to this weekend that most roads will be closed in the area. They highly recommended that we make other arrangements in getting around the city.

I could "brag" that Disney is throwing a parade in honor of Sammy and her groom, John, or I can say that Disney threw a wrench in their plans with road closures and navigational obstacles to get everyone safely and on time to the wedding venue a few miles away. I'd love to go with the former, but the latter takes the wedding cake!

Anyhoo, though cold, but sunny, we had a fine time walking around a large part of the city. There is a lot to see - even from the architectural stance - and it never disappoints. It was suggested to us to take one of the riverboat tours to check it all out, but we decided to walk instead. No need to freeze our butts on a boat. Walking makes us warmner by far. 

A few photos to share before the wedding festivities later today and tomorrow.



Notice the window washing crew on upper left of building?

Here is a little closer up! It was 32 degrees at this time! Whoa!

Thursday, November 18, 2021

A WIC Meetup with Annette Mason!

Most may know I’m still writing every single day; quilting too. I haven’t missed a writing day in about 245 days. It's much easier to carry a phone or computer to write than to haul my sewing machine and all the accoutrements that go along with sewing stitches. In the Akimbo's worldwide writing cohort called Writing in Community (WIC),  I've been crafting a good idea for my sophomore book with a publish date in 2022. 

The Zoom rooms is where I’ve found my writing tribe. I've been lucky enough to meet up with a few folks over the last several months; one, Annette Mason, I've been able to meet up with her three times (she lives on the West Coast but she and her husband often have business in the DC area). She is an awesome writer (and sketch artist) honing her skills as she finishes her first book soon.

Yesterday we were able to meet up for a quick lunch in Georgetown (Washington Harbor). Even though the weather was a little cool, the sun was warm enough and we were able to comfortably eat outside - right on the water. Man, I love that!



Tuesday, November 16, 2021

We LOVE to hear these words: "All Clear"

This afternoon I took Ryan to his 4 month rotation follow-up with Dr. Robert Ord. He was/is the lead Oral and Maxillofacial doctor and surgeon for Ryan in 2016 when he fought through two occurrences of squamous cell carcinoma. These were Ryan’s 4th and 5th cancer occurrences; secondary cancers related to the previous 3x treatments for leukemia from 1996 through 2004. I've got to admit, these appointments never get easier. The silent anxiety throughout the day can get quite exhausting (and maybe a headache thrown in for good measure.)

Over the past five years, Ryan has had quarterly follow-up appointments to keep a close eye on his oral health. Recently these appointments have been pushed to every four months. When we hear " looking good " or " all clear " after a thorough exam (as we did today!), we do a happy dance (in our minds) accompanied with a big cleansing sigh of relief. It's a rigamarole of emotions that are difficult to describe during days like this because they run the gamut of unspoken possibilities - good and not so good. 

However, there is one big plus; Ryan takes it all in stride. 

What we center ourselves with is that each day is a gift! We know it instinctively. Our family feels gratitude to the core every single day. Another happy dance, shall we?



Monday, November 15, 2021

Surprising Gifts and an Orchid!

One doesn't need much at the Big 6-0 in the way of gifts. Books and cards are great; food gifts too (got one!) Breakfasts, brunches and lunches and dinner over the past two weeks were all fantastic (I'm one lucky girl). Flowers are equally wonderful and I was blessed with a few arrangements that are all remarkable! My heart was/is bursting with love and gratitude for everything sent to me! I can't believe it. I also got a new sewing chair from my sisters that will keep me in stitches (pun intended...I couldn't help it).

However, the best gift of all is friendship. It comes in many shapes and sizes. It's the wind beneath my wings as I flit and try to nurture every single one. My friendships are with guys and gals, young and old and from all over the world. These relationships bring me immense joy. Those who know me probably know that I've never met a stranger. I can go to a party and not know a soul (okay, I do know the host or hostess) and yet leave with a "new best friend." I am not kidding. Ha!

This past weekend my friendships deepened a tick or two with the BGGGW gang (Bowling Green Girls Gone Wild). Our "wildness" comes in the form of adventures: traveling, hiking, running, walking, playing board games, eating in and out and visiting museums (in Washington DC). We are still in synch with each other 40-45 years later even though our lives have gone on and we live in different states. When we get together, the years melt away like an Alaskan iceberg. 

Last week, hubby Bill mentioned that I "nurture" friendships (I hope he knows I am nurturing our marriage too!). I posted something to that effect in the Writing In Community (WIC) comparing friendships to orchids. Apparently, it did not take long for someone in this world-wide cohort to quickly arrange a delivery! This gift was from the "Elephants" and "Crows" in WIC.  I am one part of the "Elephant" herd of six. 

On Friday, the doorbell rang (Ring...aren't they great?). Left on the stoop was a large tall box. I brought it in and examined it. I needed to find where to open it. So I did. I carefully followed how to exactly extract what was in the box that was written on the box. I then lifted out a two foot white orchid plant onto the table. 

It's stunning. Bill suggested we take a photo pronto. I agreed.

Now the race is on to nurture the orchid like I wrote about in a recent post about friendship. I know I can do this! 



Sunday, November 14, 2021

Ushering in a New Decade - Hiking/Boat Brunch/Museum!

What a weekend! I couldn't have scripted such an amazing birthday weekend like I've had if it wasn't for my family, my friends who came to celebrate with me (Rosalie Franek,  Laura Hennessey and Jodie Smith), and a huge community of well-wishers of birthday greetings. I cannot thank everyone enough to make this girl feel very special turning 6-0. 

Yesterday was an epic 9 mile hike in the Shenandoahs of Syria, Virginia. The Best Daughter, Bill, the BG Girls and I woke up at 5:30 am to drive 2.5 hours to the White Oak Canyon Trail. The views were stunning with the trees in peak fall colors and the trail sprinkled with over 50 cascading waterfalls with treacherous crossings and 2800 ft. of elevation gain. The hike became more technical due to some rain, wet granite rocks, leaves and loose footing. A pint of beer afterwards in Culpeper, VA, helped our tired and sore bodies.

Today the celebration continued with a brunch on a large sailboat parked in a marina in Galesville, Maryland. Laura's brother and his wife recently sold their home and bought a beautiful boat to sail around the world upon their retirement next year. They are not fully certified to captain the boat yet, but we were able to ooh and ahh and have a delicious brunch with them in their marina. 

Following brunch, we headed to DC to visit my favorite museum: The National Portrait Gallery. We spent a couple of hours viewing several galleries that we were interested in, one being portraits of famous women authors. So cool! Dinner afterwards at a restaurant near the gallery rounded out our day. 

I am so humbled by everything that happened this weekend. It was a beautiful way to celebrate a milestone event and I will forever be grateful. 

Thank you, thank you, thank you!



The start of the White Oak Canyon Trail

At the marina

Donna, Laura, Rosalie and Jodie

Rosalie, Jodie and Laura

Our hiking crew

Museum and dinner

A strong Rosalie lifting a boulder.


Friday, November 12, 2021

I'm 60!

There's no turning back the clock on birthdays, just straight ahead into a new decade. For me it's the 60's starting today. 

A huge thank you for sending birthday wishes and greetings through the miles, over the hills and into my heart. What a day! I can't believe it. I feel the love and and blessed beyond words!

Yesterday (since it was predicted rain this morning), The Best Daughter and I went down to the US Supreme Court Building to take a few photos of this milestone birthday. I love the stately marble columns, a perfect fit for a backdrop for the occasion. 

Later this afternoon, a party atmosphere was happening inside the house. Ryan was crafting the dinner planning on his various grills (my wish for surf and turf and chicken, plus his "famous" smoked mac-n-cheese and sides made by Olivia for my bday meal was granted. Not long after everything was started, the BG Girls were driving in from Indiana and Ohio (Jodie Smith, Rosalie Franek and Laura Hennessey).

We had a great night in celebration; delicious food and drink, conversation and a fierce game of Quiddler! Though I can't believe it, this birthday girls is content! And come to think of it - big time grateful for everything in my life. 

Here are a few photos from yesterday's photo shoot:


Thursday, November 11, 2021

Military Thank You and Reflection on 59!

I want to take this opportunity to Thank our military; past, present and future for their service. So many brave souls have fought unbelievable battles, even lost their lives, so we can live in freedom. 11/11 is burned into the fabric of what makes America. 

Now: Reflection on 59 years young! As I write this, I have two more hours left of being 59...

When I turned 59 last November, it reminded me to get my full physical and mammogram. Since we were all in heavy lockdown, getting an in-person appointment was spread out on everyone’s calendar and patience in seeing your doctor was paramount. I finally got in to see my GP (general practitioner) doc in early December.

As I discussed some issues with her after the obligatory height/weight/BP were taken etc., I, off the cuff, gave some concrete of examples of those issues. I was thinking they were “nothing,” or at least hoping they were “nothing.” But the doc wasn’t so sure.

Before I left the office, I was laden down with prescriptions and testing orders. All the testing was done the last two weeks of December. It wasn’t looking like turning 59 was going to be fun and carefree like I envisioned.

As the results trickled in, more testing was needed. The big one was needing a surgical procedure (D&C) to find out even more on what was happening to me in the female parts of the anatomy. That was in January of 2021.

Not only was I dealing with an unknown health challenge, I was full out in publishing my first book, The Focused Fight. It was pandemonium for me.

A huge sigh of heaviness washed over me when the results came back with the diagnosis of Uterine Cancer. Yikes! The night before that fateful dx, I finally received my last piece for the book; Dr. Shad’s foreword. I was begging for it for a long time! Coincidence? I don’t know.

My OB/GYN oncologist surgeon, Abbie Fields, said that I needed the surgery (radical hysterectomy) ASAP. However, in the midst of Covid-19 and being in a hospital full of patients and staff dealing with the pandemic, OR (operating rooms) were at a premium. She went to bat for me and was able to secure a time for me on February 17, 2021.

The few weeks between surgeries flew by with finishing the last vestiges of the book. There was no time for worry, or at least that is what I told myself. I wrote some passages about my feelings and posted them in my WIC2 (Writing in Community 2nd session) which was a huge help for me mentally. The community, as well as my family, rallied around me something fierce. I will never forget it. Their generosity and caring catapulted me to wheel down on that gurney with a will of steel knowing I had an army of supporters no matter the outcome, or stage of cancer, I would eventually be placed in.

And then, 10 days after surgery, though still dealing with a catheter since my surgeon blew through two of the three layers of the bladder (it’s a tight space I’m told), she called me with my results. I was practically hyperventilating but tried to keep it together as she spoke. A rush of emotions flooded my brain. I could barely speak. I'm very thankful for the speaker function on the phone so Bill could listen in and I didn’t have to talk. Dr. Fields blurted out that the pathology report indicated Stage 1A (the best outcome from the diagnosis).

No further treatment was needed.

A scream of joy erupted from me. Since I was a hurtin’ cowgirl, a happy dance had to be put on hold.

Receiving that call unexpectedly was the best news of the year for me-perhaps my entire life for me personally. I was (still am) so very grateful for that good pathology report even though I still had to give myself 30 doses of Lovenox (enoxaparin sodium/anticoagulant) shots into the stomach - one a day for 30 days.

After that call, I had to get my big girl panties on and fight for a full blown recovery. Hubby Bill sat on me, figuratively, but I think he thought sometime literally, so I wouldn’t do too much and just heal. He was adamant to keep me safe and in the healing zone the entire time. If it wasn’t for him and my immediate family, I’m not sure I would be healed quite as well. I am grateful beyond words that was the case.

When fuzzy brain finally flew the coup (and I was off the couch), I resumed my focus to publishing my ebook first. I was able to push that KDP button on March 11, 2021. Two weeks later, on March 25th, the paperback version was on Amazon. I was flying high!

As the year progressed, I got stronger. My wounds healed nicely and my energy began to return. I used “laughter is the best medicine” while in recovery. Though it hurt to laugh at times (especially at first), I watched three shows that kept me laughing and my spirits high: reruns of Friends, Seinfeld and The Big Bang Theory.

By summer, and feeling stronger from one day to the next, Bill and I were walking a good amount: 3-4 miles a day. I was also planning an ambitious summer of travel on eight consecutive weekends for weddings/graduations/book signing parties as well as our two week vacation in Colorado.

Thankful beyond words that can’t adequately convey, every single one of those plans came to fruition. Despite all that went down early in the year, I was feeling like me again. On the outside, it might not have looked like a slow build up, but it was all thanks to Bill. He was correct in keeping me on the down low for so long so we could do and have the fun as we anticipated before all the hullabaloo.

By the end of August, I felt well enough to start refereeing. I’ll admit, I was a bit nervous on that first game on the pitch as a center referee but the skills of running and sprinting came back with no problems. I even ran in a few 5K races to round out getting back into shape.

Toward the end of my 59th year, I finished the high school soccer season, am back sewing and quilting like a fiend, I am writing every day, and frankly, blessed to be able to feel this good. Everything has exceeded my expectations beyond my wildest dreams.

There are many people to thank in getting me to this point in my life. Some have passed away, but those still kicking it here on Earth are my heroes and heroines. They have shaped me into a person that is affectionately called: Wild T or Wild Ter.


Finally, I get to share my love with Bill, Olivia and Ryan, plus so many amazing people placed in my path on this thing called life. These include the treasure trove of friends all over the world, including my Rhodes Girls (high school); the BGGGW (Bowling Green Girls Gone Wild, AKA as college friends), my quilting and guild and bee-mates, the families associated with Special Love, Inc., and other foundations, the writers in the WIC and my fellow referees.

After publishing in March, I now get to share The Focused Fight and market it to anyone who would like to hear about the Power of Community & Connection and Post Traumatic Growth, plus a whole bunch of other stuff like the Power of a Chocolate Chip Cookie.

As I write this reflection, I am laughing and tearing up (tee up “It’s my Birthday so I’ll Cry if I Want to”). It’s been one heck of a ride I’ll tell ya!

Cheers to 60! (It’s teed up less than 2 hours away.)

I promise to do 60 proud (and waaaay less drama!).

Thank you for reading. You all are the wind beneath my wings.



The Best Daughter took me to dinner at The Little Pearl in Washington DC

The Best Daughter and me 11/11/21

Wednesday, November 10, 2021

A Wagon Heart

Maybe a year or so ago, everywhere I looked in nature, I'd see a heart. They weren't hard to find, mind you, but I found them in a leaf, stone or a configuration of something. 

After awhile, a looong while, I found nothing. Nada. I didn't see any more hearts, but I wasn't looking.

Then...violá I found one recently...or did it find me? It was a shadow of pulling a wagon with my fist in the handle that resembles a heart. I think I maybe back on track in finding them once again? I sure hope so.



Tuesday, November 9, 2021

Book Club: The Color of Rain

When my neighborhood book club got together at the end of summer to select the books for the coming year, the first selection out of the hat (mine) was The Color of Rain by Michael and Gina Spehn. It was recommended to me by my college friend, Laura Murphy, who knows and lives in the same town as the Spehns - Rochester, Michigan. I was also lucky to host for the night in my home. 

Not to give away the full story but here is what is on the back jacket of the book: "When two childhood friends die of cancer just weeks apart, the shared experience of loss brings their grieving spouses together. After months of late night phone calls, family dinners, and countless tears and dreams, this unlikely pair builds a trust, a love, and a shared life."

They also built a foundation for families in financial crisis due to a cancer diagnosis: New Day https://www.foundationforfamilies.org/

The book club had a lively discussion before we patched Gina in on a Zoom call to continue the conversation with us and a bit of Q &A. It was a great night. Gina is spiritual, inspirational and upbeat. No topic was off limits. She was also candid on how she is handling her (5) young adults in their 20's; navigating college, their first jobs and moving away from home. It's not every day that an author joins in with a book club evening, so we are grateful for Gina carving out some time to spend some with us on a very special night for all of us. 

If there is a chance you recognize Gina and Michael's story, The Color of Rain was made into a Hallmark movie in 2014 starring Lacey Chabert. Two weeks ago, on Celebrity Wheel of Fortune, Lacey Chabert won almost $60,000 for The New Day Foundation to kick off their gala and fundraising event. Good things are happening for the entire Spehn family!



Sunday, November 7, 2021

A Pair of Jeans

The cleverness of some of my sewing friends resulted in naming—a pair of Jeans. Not the kind you wear. Nope, the “new” name emerged when two guild members named Jean happened to sit across from each other the entire retreat weekend that we couldn’t resist the name (better than The Bobbsey Twins!).

Gotcha if you thought I was working in denim fabric! Ha!

The mentorship of life and friendship from these two Jeans’ add up to 164 years (one is 87 and the other is 77 years young). I’ve known them both for years and I truly treasure their collected wisdom beyond measure…pun intended.

The Jean who is 87 still drives and has a full life. Her husband is not doing well (on hospice), but she believes in self-care. She knows that going on this November’s retreat twas going to help her be a better caregiver for her husband once she returned home. I couldn’t agree more and told her so.

The Jean who is 77 is a cyclist and pianist after retiring over 20 years ago from teaching. She told me that she rode over 2,700 miles this summer! She is a heroine and inspiration too!

These are two examples of the women who I got to sew with on retreat. I wanna be like them when I enter the upper decades (God-willing) - driving, cycling, sewing, traveling. They are enjoying their lives to the fullest even with obstacles of their own aging, or their husband’s aging, staring them in the face. 

It's not all about the sewing...



Saturday, November 6, 2021

Day 3 of West River, Maryland Quilt Retreat!

It’s a wonderful thing to have the clocks go back an hour tonight. Especially when one is on a quilt retreat. There are never enough hours in the day for us with all that we bring and want to either finish, or at least, work on. That means tonight we have that extra "free" hour of sewing/quilting.

We’ve all been busy working on so many things that the "crown of completion" was passed around quickly from one finisher of something to another. The "crown of completion" is a tiara that is proudly worn, even for a few minutes, until someone else finishes something. Not only is the tiara bequeathed to the newest finisher of a completed project, we are serenaded with a kazoo to the tune of Ta-Da or "Charge."

It’s the little things.

Not only have I been working on a huge commissioned project, I have been designated to DJ and spin the tunes of our lives. As I write this, we are rockin’ and rollin’ to the Eagles Greatest Hits! Who doesn’t know the all the words? I just glanced up and noticed 10 people singing along. I don’t think we can beat the sound of our machines humming along, but we can do our best to drown it out by our singing (and harmonizing)!




Debbi Carter's beautiful Son & Moon (name of pattern)

Retreaters hard at work

Friday, November 5, 2021

Day 2 SoCo Quilt Retreat

Wooohooo, a full day of sewing with minimal breaks. It’s just the way I like it. However, I’m in good company with my sewing sisters who think the same way. It seems we can’t get enough hours in the day to finish the many projects we bring to complete, but only muster to finish one or two (especially if they are big quilts).

Since I brought a few projects that I need to have done by Christmas, I’ve been workin’ like one of Santa’s elves. This dedicated time has been a huge blessing; not only getting a handle on the scope of what I need done from a quilting/sewing perspective, but polishing the gems of friendships I hold dear in my heart with many of the ladies on retreat with me.

We come from all walks of life, span five decades, hail from four states, have interesting lives and gather on retreats with our common denominator: fabric…and what we can do with it to make treasured keepsakes.

The conversations and stories that whirl around the room are dizzying as well as vibrant, funny and poignant.

For me, it’s all intoxicating to hang with other sewists and fabric artists! 



Christmas Quilt by my sister Kim - started in 2017

Retreat Center; West River, Maryland

Slicing and dicing fabric by Deb Hoppe and Mary Nielsen

Thursday, November 4, 2021

Quilt Retreat 2021!

It has almost been two years since our guild has gathered together to sew on for an entire weekend at West River, MD, retreat center. I can't believe we are here, but it seems just like it was yesterday.

It's lovely. Being on the water is even better. 

There is a lot to catch up on with our sewing projects as well as our sewing sister friendships!  Three-out-of-towners, including my sister, Kimberly from Cleveland, have joined the gang (Carrie Casto from the AZ and Mary Nielsen from Florida being the other two). 

My car was jammed with all our stuff — double of everything like two sewing machines plus we have to bring bedding/towels etc. 

I've got a few projects lined up and ready to work/sew/laugh/eat and share advice about everything in life and then some.



Me and Kim

Kim and a Christmas quilt

Working on a pattern

Wednesday, November 3, 2021

Milestone Post for Ryan- 17 years Post PBMT (Pediatric Bone Marrow Transplant)

I’m going to go back a bit ala The Focused Fight to write a celebratory post. Today, November 3rd, is a day we celebrate my/our son Ryan’s New Birthday! Seventeen years ago we were waiting for his new bone marrow to arrive at Duke University Hospital to once and for all eliminate the leukemia that was ravaging his small body.

We knew in the early am that the life-saving marrow and our hero and donor, Scott Harris, was at his hospital donating, but gosh darn it, that marrow took all day to arrive in Durham, North Carolina. Lots of roadblocks apparently (driver from the airport got lost finding Duke), but it did finally arrive. Precautions were also implemented once it was in the hands of the practitioners, so by the time Ryan got that first cc of precious blood and marrow, it was 7:45 PM. Yes, we were wringing our hands all day long…

In effect, we celebrate his “new” birthday today—now 17 years Post Transplant. It was never easy on this road, however, the new marrow gave him a new leash on life. WE are all thankful beyond our wildest dreams with hundreds, if not thousands, of people who were put into our crazy zigged zagged path to get Ryan to where he is today.

I just did a happy dance. Ryan and Bill will celebrate with a Chipotle meal later today. Olivia rang in with a text first thing this morning.

The day is never lost on us no matter where we are in the world.



Olivia and Ryan 11/3/2004 - Duke University Hospital

Tuesday, November 2, 2021

The Shell

I posted the following to the Writing in Community 3 (WIC3) and figured it would be good to post here too. I hope you enjoy it!

The Shell

A crisp autumn long walk at the ocean’s edge is cathartic, if not life-changing for a long minute, with a gift of a beat up conch sea shell smack dab on the wet sand. It was like the universe was saying to me, this beat up shell is for you. It’s cracked, but still strong.  It has kept its form and has good color, just like you. I “found” it, or perhaps it found me, as I walked further and further away from the few people and dogs scattered along the shoreline as I started my couple mile journey. My family and I were at the beach for an end of October wedding and most of the festivities. But the ocean kept calling me. I knew what I had to do the next morning: a solo walk to soak in the salty air, the sounds, and the sea. 

No matter the day or time of year the ocean never disappoints. 

Due to a very strong storm the day before the wedding that actually closed down Highway 1A, along with finding another venue for the rehearsal dinner and other obstacles thrown into this family’s path, the water surge was so strong that the bride lost her car to water damage from parking it in her hotel garage. She wasn’t the only one who lost a vehicle, several cars were underwater and had to be dealt with over this weekend. Ugh!

So at the very end of October 2021, it wouldn’t surprise anyone that from that terrible storm, gifts from the sea were scattered everywhere. The earlier risers may have found a keeper or two in seashells, but the best one was there, waiting for me, or at least I’d like to think so. 

I saw it in the distance and couldn’t make out exactly what it was. For all I know, it couldn’t have been a piece of trash like a plastic bag filled with sand. Once I inched closer and closer, it wasn’t a bag at all! I was almost giddy on the find. Once upon it, I immediately thought back to one of my favorite books: Gift from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh. In Ms. Anne’s book, she meditated on her youth, her marriage, her peace and solitude and finally, gratitude, during brief vacations by the sea. She drew inspiration from the shells she found almost daily along with her musings in just about everything in her life at that time. 

It was my found shell that I heard the whispers of the sea. It wasn’t a perfect intact shell, but neither am I. Maybe that’s why I was so drawn to it. The shell showed what my life is all about as I stare down a milestone birthday this November. Though beat up and cracked a bit, it still showed its beauty. The flaws merely cast the realization that we can get beat down, broken in some areas of our lives, but still stand strong and have meaning. The desire, of course, is to be accepted whole. 

The shell showed me that life is messy. It has holes. Its living whole in the midst of life’s distractions and trying to find some balance that shows true strength. 

The shell taught me that I can be accepted just the way I am.