Friday, February 20, 2015

Snow WEEK!

Here in Chester County, Tennessee, we have 10 snow days built into our school calendar.  I always thought that was excessive given that we rarely get snow here and when we do, it rarely hangs around.  I did not consider the fact that when we get snow, or ice, our back roads are impassable.  The school buses cannot safely negotiate those roads and thus it is safer for all to close schools. 

Back yard view--pond over on the right,
mostly covered with snow!

The side yard
So, here I am, on the Friday of our Snow Week!  Initially, I had high hopes of being very productive this week.  Then I hit the snag in my Principalship  class.  I originally thought that I understood what I needed to do for my proposal assignment and then when I reviewed the material again, I thought I was off track.  ARGH!  I finally contacted my professor and clarified what I was supposed to focus on.  I was right initially!  (YAY)   Now, the proposal is finished and submitted.  My reflection for that class is also finished.  I have finished my opinion paper for my other class on Data. 


The Icicle!

Once I finished my classwork, I decided it was time to tackle the pile of quilt projects I have.  So, I basted two quilt tops.
Two basted quilts

 I laid out the Japanese panel quilt for basting. 

Japanese floral panel

I also got inspired to make the 1600 quilt top.  It is made from a jelly roll of fabrics called Elementary by Moda.  It was crazy easy to make and I love the look!  I am going to back it with a brown fabric I have with Monkeys on it.  It will be called 1600 Elementary Monkeys!  

1600 quilt top! 

Reagan has been my constant companion this entire week.  She follows me around everywhere I go!  She is a wonderful dog and daily I am thankful that we adopted her.  

Happy New Year! (yes, this is a little late!)

When you say "Happy New Year", do you really mean it?  Are you truly wishing happiness on another person?  Is the wish for one day, one week, one month or the entire year?
After all, what does it mean to be happy?

My niece, Kirsten,  is the inspiration for this post.  She had a wonderful 2014.  Her life changed in many positive ways.  I know that there were upsetting aspects to her year, but she chose to look at the positive events.  She chose to look at the events that brought her joy.  So, for her, 2014 WAS a wonderful year.

When you reflect back over the events in your life during 2014, do you see everything?  Do you see the joyous events as well as the sad events?  Do you see the moments of frustration as well as the moments of celebration and accomplishment?

I thought about these questions with respect to myself.  I had many rough spots in 2014, times when I did not know if I could make it through another day without falling to pieces.  Yet, I persevered and overcame those dark days.

In 2014, we adopted two fabulous dogs.  Bella is a part golden retriever, part something else, and she is wonderful to have as part of our family.  Since she was a stray prior to her adoption, she had some issues.  She is slowly overcoming her fears and warming up to the joys of belonging to a family.  Reagan also joined us this year, she is a full golden and again was mistreated prior to her adoption, but again she is doing very well and is realizing that having two sisters is a fabulous way to live!
Bella and Kashmir

Also in 2014, Vince and I traveled around the world.  We had the opportunity to see countries I never thought we would see.  We saw Hawaii, Fiji, Australia, Thailand, Italy, Germany, Lichtenstein, France, Switzerland, Iceland, Denmark, and perhaps a few I have left out!  We traveled by plane, car, boat, train, and horse drawn carriage!  It was a fabulous vacation and we make terrific memories.  Eventually, I will make the quilt I have planned using all the fabrics I purchased on our adventure.

In 2014, I spent time with my friends and family, I enjoyed many meals with them and many games of Scrabble with Vince.  We terminated our Television service and have enjoyed more time for ourselves (and some extra money too).  We conducted our annual house purge and found space we did not know we had.  I finished 8 quilts, went on two Quilt retreats with my Guild and also  finished 4 quilt tops. I returned to school to earn my Doctorate in Education.  In the school where I work, we were awarded a grant for our recycling efforts, which will go to help improve education about recycling.  Additionally, we earned enough money through our recycling to purchase 6 bubble soccer balls!

I know this is a little late for a New Year's greeting.  I am taking some time to wrap up loose ends today.

My prayer for everyone is that 2015 brings you much happiness.  


Monday, December 22, 2014

The most wonderful time of the year?

Christmas is a time of year that I have always loved.  My father loved Christmas.  Maybe it was the fact that all of the family was together for meals and fun, maybe it was the happiness everyone seemed to share, maybe he loved giving presents and seeing someone's face light up with joy, maybe it was songs, food, specials on television....I have no idea exactly what he loved about Christmas, but I do know that I love this season as well. 

There are still aspects I do not like, such as the commercialism, the overspending, the traffic and the stress some people subject themselves to. 

However, I prefer to look at the wonderful part of this time of year.  My house smells like cookies and the lights on the tree and railings are beautiful and peaceful at night.  I love filling the stockings with treats and toys for my dogs.  I enjoy singing Christmas carols in church and sharing meals with friends and family. 

Perhaps most of all, I love giving.  I love the smile I see on a person's face when I give them a gift.  It does not matter what I am giving, it is usually unexpected and I love the joy that my simple gifts will bring to someone else. 

I am not one to just give at Christmas, however.  I believe in the giving spirit all year long.  The unexpected gifts are the best ones of all. 

So, remember the spirit of the holiday.  Do not remember the stress, the hassle.  Remember that the giving is the greatest pleasure of all.  Most importantly, remember the God so loved the world that he gave his only son. 

Saturday, July 26, 2014


When Narnia died back in March, our hearts were broken.  Not just mine and Vince's, but Kashmir's also.  It was so hard to see her grieve for her sister.


Kashmir and Narnia as young dogs!

We knew we wanted to get another dog, as we love having dogs in the house.  We just were not ready.  However, watching Kashmir mope around the house convinced us that she needed a companion sooner than later. 

We registered with the Memphis Area Golden Retriever Rescue organization (MAGRR).  We knew the approval  process would take a while, and this would allow us time to watch the site for a dog we would like to adopt.  It took quite a few months for our final approval and during that time, we adopted Isabella (Bella for short) from the High Forest Rescue organization in Hohenwald, TN.  We do not know much about Bella's background other than she was a pregnant stray when High Forest took her in. 
She is about 3 years old, a Golden Retriever mix.  She is afraid of many things:  loud noises, sudden movements, anything over her head, anything that is out of place, and big things, and she is storm phobic.  She ran away twice in the first week we had her, necessitating three baths.  However, she did come home after the last romp.

She has improved a lot since her arrival here.  She will go outside and come in with little problem, she will play and has been getting along with Kashmir nicely.  She has a Thunder Shirt that she wears during storms and the 'collar of compliance' that we simply put on her and she goes or does whatever we need her to do.  I do not know what magic the collar has, but it gives Bella confidence! 

Now we have Reagan!  Once we finally had our home study for MAGRR, we were able to meet and adopt Reagan in less than two weeks.  Reagan is about 5 years old, and very active.  Her foster mother described her as a 'velcro dog', which apparently means she sticks by your side!  I have found that to be very true.  Everywhere I go in the house, Reagan follows! 

 Initially, there was quite a bit of growling and some pushing and fighting when the three dogs were together, but that seems to have calmed down.  Reagan also likes to eat.  A lot.  She will finish her food and then go for the other dog's food bowls.  I have to watch Reagan carefully.  Yesterday, Janice and I went to PetSmart and bought two additional elevated bowl stands.  Each one is very different so that each dog can learn their own bowls.  They are also in three separate locations.  You can see Bella with her bowl stand in the photo below. 

 Reagan is also having problems remembering that Outside is where she is supposed to pee and poop.  We are working on that too.  However, considering the fact that Reagan has only been part of the family for two days now, she is fabulous!  She is a lot of fun to play with, she is getting along with both Bella and Kashmir now and we have a house full of dogs! 
Reagan, Bella and Kashmir

Reagan, Bella and Kashmir

I LOVE my expanded family! 

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Iceland--cold, but no ice!!

We arrived at the Iceland airport, picked up our tiny Mazda rental car and drove the short distance to the Berg Hotel. The hotel was across from a small marina, and had great views of the ocean, at least what we could see through the fog and overcast skies.
The Berg Hotel
Bear and Dog overlooking the Atlantic Ocean!

On the very far right is the fabulous restaurant where we
ate our first night in Iceland.

The hotel room was two floors, with the bedroom up a short flight of stairs in the loft.   We spent little time there as we were focused on the need for food!  On the recommendation of the hotel staff, we walked across the street to a local restaurant and had one of the tastiest meals of our trip!  Since we were in Iceland we both ate seafood dishes and even had a  luscious  dessert.  Suffice to say, we left quite satisfied.  We intended to walk around the town of Keflavik, but found it to be way TOO COLD!  

We returned to our room to plan the next day's adventure.  

On Saturday morning, we arose early for our whale watching adventure.  We arrived and were thankful that the company supplied waterproof, warm jumpsuits for all passengers.  Did I tell you it was COLD in Iceland?

Vince in his Whale watching suit

The ocean was beautiful

We watched for groups of birds, which signified
the presence of whales.

I am studying the ocean!

Our ship's name

There is a group of birds here, but no whales!
The trip out into the Atlantic Ocean was glorious.  The sun started to poke through the clouds and provided more contrast to the dark ocean surface we were watching, looking for whales.  The captain provided us with information on the types of whales we would most likely see (Minkie and humpback), as well as information on the birds ( puffins, seagulls, tenents).  We had a number of whale sightings, mostly dorsal fins.  Some were so fleeting, I missed them.  Pictures were impossible unless I wanted to stare through the camera lens instead of enjoying myself.  So, sorry my friends, no photos for you to enjoy except for the ones from the company website.
After our whale journey, we went in search of Virka, a quilt store.  Virka is supposedly the largest quilt store in Europe and based on my shopping experiences, I believe that claim!  Iceland is not known for their fabric, but for their wool, so I was not able to purchase any fabric made in Iceland.  I decided on some which had puffins, whales and seagulls, as well as a fun batik.

This is what I spent on Fabric.  4,515 Kroner

the owner of the shop makes all of the quilts.

We stopped for lunch at a Metro Burger place, which seemed to have the same menu as McDonalds!

Next stop, Geysir!  There are many geysers in Iceland, and we visited a spot where there are several.

On the way to Geysir, we found another rock tower field! 

Loved the 'at your own risk' sign!

Little Geyser--bubbles continually

On the way to the Strokkur geyser

Strokkur getting ready for its performance

Thar She Blows! 

Strokkur erupts fairly regularly

Another really cool (hot?) pool at the park, the colors are not
really visible in the photo, but the water appears a
beautiful light teal color

Lupines grow wild in Iceland.  They are Beautiful!


Strokkur erupting again

and again!

This is the original Geysir---it does not erupt very often, perhaps
because of the other geysers in the area.

After Geysir, we ventured off to find Gullfoss (which meals Golden Falls).  What a fabulous sight!  The falls are tiered, like Niagra Falls, but much smaller.  However, there is more character there!  The story of the falls is this:  

Sigríður Tómasdóttir, the daughter of Tómas Tómasson who owned the waterfall in the first half of the 20th century, must have felt the same. She lived at a farm nearby and loved Gullfoss as no one else.

At this period of time much speculation about using Gullfoss to harness electricity was going on. Foreign investors who rented Gullfoss indirectly from the owners wanted to build a hydroelectric power plant, which would have changed and destroyed Gullfoss forever.

As the story goes it's thanks to Sigríður Tómasdóttir that we still can uplift ourselves with the beauty of Gullfoss, because she was the one that protested so intensely against these plans by going as far to threat that she would throw herself into Gullfoss and thereby kill herself.

To make her threat believeable she went barefoot on a protest march from Gullfoss to Reykjavik. In those days the roads weren't paved and when she arrived after 120 kilometers her feet were bleeding and she was in very bad shape.
The people believed her and listened and the power plant at Gullfoss was never built.
Today one can see the memorial site of Sigríður that depicts her profile at the top of the falls.

Gullfoss from the upper parking area

Closer view of Gullfoss

Walking on the rocks at the edge of Gullfoss

Close up view of Gullfoss

Distance view of Gullfoss, you can see the walkway and
the rocks at the edge where we stood.

We found a Thai restaurant for dinner and ventured back to the Hotel Berg for our final night's rest in Iceland.  

In the morning, bear, dog and I went Exploring and found the home of the Giantess.

There were these HUGE footprints along the marina below our hotel.

You can see how large the footprints are compared to Dog and Bear.
Upon our arrival at her shack, we hard her snoring!  Bear wanted to go in, but dog was scared.  We took photos and skedaddled out of there! 

Vince was waiting for us to return so that we could take our final ride through the Icelandic countryside.  We were returning to the airport and starting our return journey to the United States. 

In total, we traveled more than 27,900 miles.  We traveled by airplane, train, automobile, boat, cable car, horse drawn carriage, and foot.  We explored mountains, inactive volcanoes, gorges, glaciers, beaches, cities, lakes, and scrub (Australia).  We experienced the culture of a symphony and an orchestra, as well as the majestic beauty that God created in nature.  We met many different people, learned a few words in different languages, ate food we had not eaten before and some we may never eat again!!

We had the time of our lives on this trip of a lifetime and I am thrilled to have experienced it again by sharing it with all of you.  I hope you enjoyed our trip around the world an I hope that it has inspired you to do some traveling of your own.  You do not need to go around the world, just find somewhere you have not been before and go!