Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Back to the Hills

A few weeks ago, Jerry and I took a trip to the north Georgia mountains. This past weekend, I went back north again with the Batty Babes. We made our 3rd annual girls' weekend trip to Amelia and Gary's cabin near Hiawassee, Georgia...just a few miles from the North Carolina state line. They have a little piece of heaven up there and enjoy sharing it with friends.

We've been having a real heat wave for the last few weeks. Even for Georgia, it's been unusually hot. But it is normally about 15 degrees cooler up there. Their cozy cabin is so inviting...and the back deck calls you to come out and enjoy nature. Their back yard...lush with dense ferns and shady trees...ends at a small river. I could sit there for hours just feeling the breeze and listening to the water flowing over the rocks. As a matter of fact, I did! And so did Ardis. There's relaxed...and then there's completely relaxed.
There are a few things we can be sure of when we spend a few days up there together. There will be food. Lots of really good food. There will be margaritas. (Mimosas for breakfast) There will be laughter. Lots of laughter. There will be more food. And more margaritas. And there will be games to play. Lots of games. Old favorites like Rummikub and Phase 10. And we will learn some new games. This year's newbies included Hit the Deck, Spit and Monopoly Deal. My new favorite of these is Monopoly Deal. I've already taught it to Jodi and she's hooked. The others are fun, too. And there will be fun.

Some of the special little things this year included dinner out at a nice restaurant one evening, a boat ride on the lake, a trip to the spa and a stop at a toy store on the way home. "Babes in toyland" as it were. And, as usual, it was completely enjoyable. Thanks for your hospitality, Amelia. We can't wait to do it again next year!!!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

These High, Green Hills

I stole this title from the third book in Jan Karon's Mitford series. Great books. If you've never read them, I highly recommend that you do. But that's not what this blog post is about. It just reminded me of the trip Jerry and I took to the north Georgia mountains a couple of weeks ago. North Georgia also has some high, green hills. This picture was taken from the window of our room at the Amicalola Falls State Park Lodge where we really enjoyed staying for 3 days and 2 nights.

Amicalola boasts the highest falls east of the Mississippi River. The park is nice and we hiked around and saw the falls from the top, the middle, and the bottom. This picture was taken in the middle of it. They also have a good restaurant at the lodge where we had dinner one night and two breakfasts. The dining room has one wall of windows that look out over those high, green hills. The first night there, it rained and blew and there was lots of lightning and thunder. The windows opened, so it was great sleeping!! We treated ourselves to this little trip to celebrate our anniversary. We stopped and played golf on the way up there and went to a neat place for lunch.
When we checked in at the lodge, they asked if we were celebrating our anniversary. We said, "Yes", and looked at each other wondering how they knew. We hadn't mentioned it when we made the reservations. Walking down the hall to our room, we decided we must just look like a couple of old, married people. But when we opened the door to our room, we figured it out. There was a wonderful surprise waiting for us! The kids had arranged to have a fabulous fruit, cheese, cracker tray and a bottle of bubbly set up for us. Such great kids we have! It was as delicious as it looks.

We spent the evenings at the lodge and the days in the small mountain towns in the area. One of those towns is Dahlonega. That's where the nation's first major gold rush took place in 1828...a full 20 years before the "49ers" went to California. There are lots of shops, restaurants, wine tasting, etc. around the old town square.
Another neat town is Helen...also known as Alpine Helen. Seems this little town nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains on the Chattahoochee River was struggling some years back. So to bring life to the town, the people wisely decided to redo the whole town with the look of an Alpine Village. All the buildings...even gas stations and fast food places...have to have that look. And it works. More shopping, etc. And there are many eating places that have patios that overlook the river so you can sit there in the summer time and watch people going by on brightly colored inner tubes that are for rent just north of the town.
What a fun, relaxing couple of days we had. It was only a couple of hours from home, but seemed like another world. Silly that we wait and use an anniversary as an "excuse" to do these things. We really should get out more!!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Our Inheritance

When my aunt Leona died last November, it fell to my cousin, Pat, to take care of her things. Luckily, Aunt Leona was not a pack rat (I must get that from somewhere else) and her apartment was small so it was not the huge burden that job can sometimes become. Pat asked us all if there was anything we wanted before she began getting rid of things. I remembered that Aunt Leona had a little red oriental chest in her living room. It was special to her because it had belonged to her sister, my Aunt Catherine. Catherine and her husband, Ellis, had received it as a gift from friends who were world travelers and had brought it back from one of their trips to the east. So I made arrangements to have it shipped here from Illinois. I like it very much. It's a very useful little cabinet and I had just the place for it. But better than that, I like being the new "caretaker" of it and I appreciate the history behind it.

After getting rid of furniture, clothes, etc., Pat kept Aunt Leona's personal things until we could all get together and go through them to take what we wanted. That opportunity came on the Friday night before her memorial service. After sharing a very good dinner at the Pines, we settled in to looking through the things Pat had saved for us. There were LOTS of pictures. Some very good older ones I had never seen before. A great picture of my grandparents! They had both died years before I was born, so I never knew either of them. And I have only seen one or two pictures of either of them all my life. So that was a terrific "find". (Aren't they "dapper"?)

Much as beauty is in the eye of the beholder....I guess "terrific" is in the mind of the finder. As we milled around, reminiscing and sharing stories, my cousin, Maureen, screeched jubilantly, "I'VE GOT THE VINEGAR BOOK!!!" When we were all still very young, Aunt Leona and her brothers (our fathers) all had copies of The Vinegar Book. They were convinced of it's hundreds of beneficial purposes. It became sort of a health bible for them. She had found Aunt Leona's copy and quickly laid claim to it.

Like most women of her age, Aunt Leona had a plethora of costume jewelry. While looking through it, I found a pair of rather large (1-1/2" diameter) Christmas earrings. I was holding them when my sister-in-law, Linda, said, "Take them. They're you!" I laughed because I couldn't quite see Aunt Leona wearing them...and it's a sure bet I'M not going to wear them. I grinned and said, "Here. I'll take one and you take one and we'll use them as little Christmas tree ornaments and every year when we hang them we'll laugh.

After we had looked at photos, souvenirs, memorabilia, etc., Pat brought out a little case that held some of Aunt Leona's better jewelry. She wanted to make sure that we each got to pick something that we would like. In that case was her 1931 class ring from Streator Township High School. Pat and the others agreed that it should go to either my sister, Karen, or me because we also graduated from that high school. Karen said she didn't care, so I took the ring. Of all the tangible things I have left of Aunt Leona, I love this one the best. I can remember her still wearing it and she was pleased that she still had it. I like the design of it better than I liked my own class ring. And, speaking of my class ring, I lost it the winter after I have been without a class ring for 45 years -- until now.
Thank you, Aunt Leona. I will cherish it always...and I'll try not to loose it!!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Annual Retreat

Back in April, I wrote that Jodi's house fire was the same weekend as our annual quilters' and scrapbookers' retreat at the Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center in Newborn, GA. That is such a wonderful facility and we have such a good and productive couple of days...everyone really looks forward to it. Jodi and her scrapbooking friends congregate on one side of the large conference room, and my quilting friends and I take over the other half. Since the fire was on Friday, and on Saturday Jodi had literally nothing but the shirt on her back and the overnight bag and scrapbooking supplies she had in the car -- and there was nothing she could do about the fire until Monday -- she did come and join us for a couple of hours. Understandably, she couldn't really concentrate on her books or get very creative...but she did sit with friends and sort through her pictures and then get a good night's sleep. The last few years, this has become a family affair for some of us. And when she was there, that made two mother-daughter sets. Here's Jodi and me with Deanna and her daughter, Jill.

Deanna is one of the Batty Babes quilters and last year she brought one of her sisters with her to the retreat. They had such a great time that this year her daughter and all three of her sisters came! She and her daughter came from North sister from South Carolina, one from Texas and one from Arizona. Her son lives here in town, so he came out and joined them all for dinner one night. By the sounds of all the laughing, I'm pretty sure they'll all be back again.
I don't have enough space here (and it's kind of a wrestling match to get some of the pictures on this blog) to show all the wonderful quilts that were created this year, but here are a couple of projects that were in the works. I was working on my 2010 Christmas quilt. Each year I draw a family member's name and somebody gets their own Christmas quilt...until everyone in the family has one. We're down to only Jerry or Jeremy to get this year's, so I decided to make a large red, green, gold and cream flannel one with a simple geometric design. Nothing "frilly" for either of those guys. I also started a pretty one called Hunter's Star that will match my living room very nicely -- provided that I can get it finished before I remodel the living room again!

Ardis, Robin and Liz were all working on a project that several of us tackled this past year. It was a mystery quilt (more on that later) that was designed by a friend of ours and published in McCall's. Here's Liz working on some of her blocks. Ardis' color palette is pinks and browns, Robin's is oranges, corals and aquas, and Liz's -- as you can see -- is red, cream and blue. They will all be the same but yet so different. It's going to be fun to see them side by side.

Amelia makes some of the biggest quilts I've ever seen and after she finished piecing this one, the only place to display it was by wrapping it around this room divider!

So here are the statistics: 27 women, 11 sleeping rooms, 1 big working room, 1 sit-down dinner, 1 buffet breakfast, the rest of the time sharing food for meals, treats, etc. Lots of working, lots of laughing, lots of eating, lots of sharing ideas, lots of appreciation for each other's artistry and hard work...and just a few games of Rummikub before turning in each night. We even made a new convert to the game this year...Jennie. It's just great and we're
looking forward to next year already!!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Big Project

I am woefully behind in my blogging, so I'll try to catch up...but I need to go back a ways to begin to do that. So please bear with me.

The Monday before Easter (hey...I said I was behind!), I told Jerry there were a few things I wanted to get done that week. One of them was to assemble the swing/play set we had ordered for the grand kids. He said, "We can't get it done by then!" I told him the literature said two adults could do it in two days...after inventorying everything. So on Monday he began to take inventory of the lumber. There were a LOT of boards. He had to measure each one and put little numbers on masking tape to identify them with the instructions. Luckily, the hardware was already in marked packages...because there was LOTS of hardware, too!

I'm not sure how many hours the two adults mentioned in the literature have in their days, but we put in a full day on Tuesday and more than half a day on Wednesday. And we were still only about half finished.

But on Thursday, the "cavalry" arrived in the form of Jodi and the kids. I had wanted to surprise them with the finished product, but they were in town and stopped by to "help". Jodi's intentions were good, but as it turned out -- just about the time she got to our house she started feeling very sick. Sore throat, aches and chills. That was the beginning of a very long bout of flu stuff that was going around here about that time. I had it a few days after her. So she went to lay down and the kids got busy helping us with construction. Actually, it was fun having them involved. They decided their gardening gloves could also be used for work they were good to go. After a bit, Savannah was less enthusiastic about the construction and decided to set out a picnic for the workers. So we had a lemonade and goldfish cracker break. But Emery was all about the building and he did a good job with the hammer and screw driver. And he learned what a ratchet was.

Despite all the help, we didn't completely finish until Friday. But it looks great! And now that summer is here, they're in the pool all the time. But they do remember that it's out there every once in a while.