Monday, May 25, 2009

My Heroes

Today I would like to pay tribute to the veterans in my family. First, there was my dad: SGT Charles R. Berry. He served in the Army Air Corps during WWII. He enlisted in January of 1942 and was honorably discharged in November of 1945. The majority of his time was spent state-side at various bases...mostly in Texas. But the last 13 months he spent in Italy. He was a cook. He was also a very short man and used to joke that when the shooting would start, he would just get into one of the big soup pots. He and my mother were newlyweds when he entered and my sister, Karen, was born in September of 1943...about half way through the time that he was away from home.

Three of my mom's four brothers also served during WWII. Ralph and Tim were in the Marines and Pete, I believe, was in the army. I know Pete served in Paris, but I'm not sure about the other two. None of these men (part of the Greatest Generation) talked much about their military service.

SSGT Jerry L. Simons was in the Air Force from 1965 to 1969. I tease him about spending 3 of his 4 years "fighting the war in Hawaii". He was very lucky to be stationed there, but his work was vital to the battles raging in the jungles of Viet Nam. He was a photo interpreter...and his job was to examine the photos brought back by the men who would fly over the thick brush. He...and the rest of the men in his group...needed to let them know where there were missile and artillery sites. The VC would move these around constantly. He showed me some of the photos and explained. Like in this one. You can clearly see the "artillery piece with barrel muzzle visible", can't you? (???)
I know I have the wrong holiday. I should post this on Veteran's Day. Memorial Day is, after all, a time to remember those who gave their lives in service to our country. But even though these 5 men were blessed enough to return to their homes and families uninjured, they did not know where they would be asked to go or what they would be asked to do when they signed their enlistment papers. They were ready to give whatever it took to ensure our safety and secure the many freedoms that we usually take for granted. That still makes them heroes in my book.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Crazy Spring/Summer Weather

Just a few weeks ago I posted some spring pictures. The delicate colors of newly blooming well as my pink golf ball sitting on a yellow tee waiting to be smacked to smithereens. BTW -- "smithereens" is nowhere near the fairway. But I digress.

Just the day after the spring pictures, I was taking "summer" pictures! A geranium in full bloom and the grand kids in the swimming pool. Our spring weather has been very warm and the pool warmed up to where the little ones were ready to get in. The grownups...aka lifeguards...however, are still just hovering nearby. They were so excited when I told them they could put their new bathing suits on and "just stick a toe in and see how cold it feels". They were in over their heads in no time saying (through chattering teeth), "It's not too cold". They had remembered from last summer just where to go to get their favorite beach towels, their sunglasses, and the "sunscream". (You can't get in the pool without putting on a lot of sunscream.)

Emery said of his new swim trunks, "I look like flag bottom boy." And, for some reason, every time Savannah gets her swimsuit on she thinks she has to sit like this on the chaise lounge chairs. We have this same pose for the last several years.
So we were into full summer mode already. Until yesterday. We've been continuing to have wonderful, glorious rainy intervals. The drought is over and the blooming things look fantastic. But yesterday was a gray, drizzly day which turned breezy and much cooler. Last night when they ran the teaser for the local news, the weatherman said, "I'll tell you when we'll be experiencing February-like temperatures"!!
I think the kiddies will be quite surprised when they come over again and the water is colder than it was before! Then again...they might not even notice.

Monday, May 11, 2009

I Could Already Be a Wiener

I was proud and happy last Thursday night to bring home a 3rd place ribbon for my challenge quilt at the guild this year. This year's challenge was "designed" by Melisa and it was a lot of fun. I always enjoy the challenges and usually participate. This year the rules were pretty easy and very creative. There were the usual limits on size, but that's' where the similarity to other challenges ended. She had gone to Lowe's and gotten some of those paint color strips and put them in a bag. Without looking, we were to pick a strip out of the bag. Those colors were to be our "inspiration". On the back of each color strip, she named one particular block and two different techniques. We had to incorporate those into our design also. It needed to be a one-person project, which meant we couldn't design it and then have someone else quilt it for us.

My color strip is in the photo above and here is my finished project. The block I had to use was called "double aster" and it is the one in each of the 4 corners. My techniques were "flying geese"...which make up the saw-toothed border, and "yo yos"...which you can't see on here but they are the flower centers.

Here are pictures of some of the other entries. The blue and yellow to the right of mine is the one that won 1st place. This picture is not good and no photo would do it justice. It is a strikingly beautiful quilt. I was so impressed with her use of color and design. She had to use the double aster block, too, and hers is in the center. One of her techniques was foundation paper piecing and the other 4 stars are done using that method. They are impossible to see here but have perfectly precise points.
This one also won the "viewer's choice" award and that was no surprise to anyone.
The second place winner was this very creative yellow/red/blue one on the bottom in this picture. Again...the pictures are terrible and the quilts were beautiful. Very creative and meticulously executed. I don't remember all her "requirements", but I know one of her techniques was hand quilting and she is a consummate machine quilter. :) That's the idea behind a challenge...get us out of our ruts.
The blue and green one above the 2nd place winner did not win a prize, but it was one of my favorites. Her block and techniques were exactly the same as mine, but with a different color chip. Look at the difference in the two designs! That's one of the joys of this creative hobby of ours.
Thanks, Melisa, for a fun challenge!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Our Nest is Empty

I found out several years ago that our empty nest had a revolving door. One child would leave, one would still be here, the other would leave, one would come back, etc. over the course of several years. It was easier to get used to that way...then came grandchildren and the nest is very full again from time to time. But on Saturday, we had to have our dog, Roxie, put to sleep and Jerry said, "Well, it's just the two of us now" and suddenly the nest seemed very empty, indeed.

We adopted Roxie 8-1/2 years ago from Pet Orphans. She was in a foster home in Buckhead. For those of you not familiar with the Atlanta area, that's a VERY nice area and she was in a VERY nice house. We joke that we "rescued" her from that and brought her to our house. The info on her said, "Roxie is an ADORABLE 14-week-old spayed female shepherd mix. Sweet as they come! Loves to cuddle under your covers and snuggle close. Very playful, smart, and catching on to housebreaking. She is excellent with other dogs, large and small, and cats. A lucky person or family who adopts this gem!" Her picture, which is too grainy to copy here, showed her looking lovingly at the camera. She would get that look once in a while when she wanted something and Jessica called it her "adoption face". Here she is with Jerry when we first brought her home.

I got Roxie for Jessica for Christmas, 2000. But Jerry had just retired that November and so the two of them were together 24/7. She always followed him around and had to be wherever he was...unless he was in his workshop. He made her nervous when he used power tools. (I understand, Roxie.) She would bring him toys when he was laying on the floor watching TV. If he didn't play with her right away, she would bring another one...then another and another, figuring there must be SOMETHING he wanted to play with. Pretty soon he would have a whole chest full of dog toys! Even though she was his constant companion, she was always ready to curl up on a quilt if I got one spread out. And another thing that happens when a nest starts to empty...when Jessica moved out it was to an apartment, so Roxie stayed with us.

When we got home from our vacation last July, she was acting strange. We saw some things in her that concerned us. Two vets, a specialist, many tests and much lab work later, she was diagnosed with cancer. She hung in there pretty good for quite a long time, all things considered. We could see her getting weaker and it was sad to watch because she still had the heart of the dog we'd always known. She would want to play and go for walks, but would tire sooner and sooner. But just last week she went downhill very quickly...and by Saturday we had to make the decision we knew was coming. Jerry found a vet that would make house calls and would even do an in-home euthanasia. That was easiest for her, but heart wrenching for us.

We will miss this sweet girl very much. And for the first time in about 35 years, we do not have a pet. (Missy, the cat in some of these pictures, died last year.) So today our nest feels very empty.