“I’m seeing Grandma & Grandpa?”

I haven’t written about Jack lately, who is my dear grandson, now age 2 and 3/4.    We love to have Jack spend the night and spend time with us at our home.  In fact, last Sat and Sunday Jack came over for a visit.

This morning, my son casually mentioned to Jack that he was going to see grandma and grandpa today.  Jack immediately went and packed his bag with toys, assuming that he was going to visit our home right then and there.  Our son took a picture  of Jack on his way to the garage where the car is.  Notice his rolling overnight case?  He is ready to go!!  LOL

He melts our hearts with his cute personality.  How sweet that he wants to visit us, too.  Actually, we planned to visit Jack and family at his house this time.

I got a chance to peek at what Jack was planning to bring in his rolling Diego case.  He had some favorite toys, and also some books in the bag.  No clothes… LOL  Guess toys are what are important to a almost 3 year old.   Ahhh… to be a young child again!!


Class Registration and other items…

I decided to take a few minutes and come up for air!  I have been busy registering students for my next online class that begins on Monday, October 18th.  I am happy to report that registration has been a complete success!

The demographics for this class is  a wonderful cross section of both sit down machine quilters and people in business with stand up quilting systems.  It is a nice mix of quilters from around the US, plus several students from Australia, Germany, England,  and Canada.   Students have been very upbeat and positive about taking my class, too.  We will have a good time.

Class starts on October 18, 2010 and lasts 3 weeks.  For more info, just click my class button above my Header art above.


What else have I been up to?    I went thrift store hunting and scored more designer clothes for my fall wardrobe.  All for $1.50 per top!  I love a bargain, plus it just makes sense in this economy to save wherever you can.  Also came home with lots of grandkids toys to add to my collection.  Jack and Kate have more toys here than at home, I think.  LOL

Been sailing on my boat, S/V Sea Glass, a few times.  Sailing has become the highlight of my weekend time with Joe.  It has been 90- degrees, so it is still bathing suit weather here in Northern California.

Spent babysitting time with Jack and Kate.  They are so cute and fun to be around!  I love being a grandmother!

Preparing for Fall class season in the local stores.  I am teaching a wide variety of classes here in Northern CA-  an Autumn Leaves quilt, my slash therapy quilt, 3 purse classes, and yes, an adorned fabric bowl class.  More details to follow…

What have YOU been up to?  Hugs, Carla

New Sailboat!!

Joe and I wanted a nice little sailboat and trailer to sail whenever we wanted and keep those sailing skills up for chartering.  We have been watching  Craigslist for about 6 months to find just the right boat.  We finally found one yesterday, and arranged to meet the boat’s owner down at the lake marina today.

Here are the pictures from the Craigslist ad for this nice little 1984 O’Day 23:

Above, shown in the marina yard.

and on the water below.  The person taking the picture is standing on the bow (front) of the boat looking back to the cockpit:

No photos of the interior.  It is clean, but the cushions are original to the boat, so I will get them recovered.  Same goes for the forward V- berth.  The interior is very spacious for this size of boat.

After a detailed survey, we bought it!!  We plan to keep it for few years, then upgrade to a bluewater cruising boat.  Joe and I are excited!  The name of this boat used to be ‘Tee-Time,” so Joe and I started talking about potential names for our firstboat.  Picking a name for a boat is harder than you think.   I’m sure the right name will come to us, but if anyone has any ideas, bring them on!!

I started making a list of essentials to buy at West Marine.  New anchor & rode, fenders, some extra lines, depth finder, handheld radio,  and boat hook to start.   Now I need to hunt on craigslist for a used dingy, too.  Life is fun!!

Hugs, Carla

Bareboat Charter

Back now from our bareboat charter to the British Virgin Islands.  “Bareboat charter” means that Joe and I chartered a catamaran (Leopard 38) and operated it ourselves.   The opposite of this is chartering a yacht and then having  paid crew sail and  operate the boat.

Here is a map of the BVI’s:

This trip, we invited friends, Larry and Lori, to come along for the fun.  They were great fun; and we had many laughs together!

Getting to Tortola, specifically Wickhams Cay II, takes a bit of patience.  This trip involves a plane trip (or two) to Miami, then another plane trip (or two) to St. Thomas.  Then you grab a cab to the Ferry Dock, a Ferry ride from St. Thomas (in the US Virgin Islands) to Roadtown (which is in the British Virgin Islands). Exit the Ferry, then you grab another cab to the Charter company to pick up the boat.

Prepare to enjoy the concept of being on “island time.”  This is where you R-E-L-A-X and just go with the flow.  Feeling stressed from travel?  No problem…. just grab a cold drink, preferably one with rum and fruit juice involved and just chill.

The charter company, with a bit of pre-planning from you, will have your provisions all ready and unpacked on the boat.  Oops, turned out this was asking too much of our company, so I needed to inquire as to the snafu.  Finally, provisions arrived and put away; we were now one step closer to leaving base.

Joe and I came with our own boat checklist, and we made a list of questions and issues for the boat briefing the following morning.  Good thing we checked as our fresh water level was down a tank, so I grabbed a hose and topped it off.   By this point, you are eager to take off from base and start your charter.

Off we go!  First night was spent at Norman’s Islands, aka “The Bight.”  We love to moor on the left side of the mooring field and snorkel around the point.  We skipped snorkeling at the Caves this time.  Night time fun was at the William Thornton, called the “Willie T” for short.  The Willie T is a wild place, where Painkillers and Rum Punches flows and fun is all around.

The next morning, Joe and I motored over to the Indians, which features the best snorkeling in the area.  Be sure to get there early  to pick up a mooring ball.  This is the place where schools of tropical fish swim all around you, contrasted to the colorful coral reef.  For me, there is nothing more soothing than snorkeling over a reef.  Here is a picture of Larry and Lori snorkeling:

Next stop, Diamond Cay on Jost Van Dyke, which is the location of Foxy’s Taboo and the Bubbling Pool.  We learned that the Bubbling Pool was not so bubbly in July, contrasted to this picture taken last November:

For first time visitors, just ask for directions at Foxy’s Taboo.  Expect roughly about a 3/4 of a mile hike to get here.  Go at high tide if you can.

Foxy’s Taboo features good food and nice staff.  The nice young man remembered us from last November, my encounter with the sea urchin in the Cay must have been memorable!  LOL  If you go here in the month of July, bring bug spray to help with the voracious mosquitoes.  Everyone but Joe got bitten, we even had a contest to see who had most bites on their legs or arms.

The next day, after anchoring at Sandy Cay, one of my favorite spots, Lori and I decided to explore the island trails.  We also spent time looking for shells and beach glass.  Success on both scores!  After this stop, we decided to search for the allusive sea horses in White Bay.

White Bay was shallower than expected, and after a rather boring snorkel whereby we all agreed the sea horses were a myth, this was a pretty spot to spend the night.  During our snorkel, it poured, but this didn’t deter the amorous couple on the beach doing certain shocking things that belong in private. Enough said.

Next stop is Marina Cay, where of course we had to search out the Web Cam on the end of the dock.  You stand in front of the British Phone booth and they upload an image every 15 seconds.  As soon as I find our pictures, I will upload it to show you.

Virgin Gorda Sound  is one of my favorite spots.  We moored at Leverick Bay,  and then took the dingy over to Mosquitos Island, which is owned by Sir Richard Branson.  We have our favorite quiet spot on a beach, plus nearby is my favorite place to hunt for beach glass and shells.

Btw, here are pictures of Joe and I on this trip.  In case you are curious, yes, I am a blonde:

Here is Captain Joe, aka my DH.  Notice how happy we are?

At this point in the trip, we needed to get Larry and Lori back to Wickhams Cay II so they could catch the taxi to the ferry home.  We stopped for one last night at Cooper’s Island and had a tasty dinner there.  The snorkeling is great there, too.

Here I caught Lori on her kindle:

We said goodbye to our friends and then turned around and sailed back to Virgin Gorda again for our final 3 days.  Lori ad Larry were troopers, but I could tell they were happy to see normal flushing toilets again (marine heads require a pump flush handle and switch) and regular showers again (instead of showering on the swim step).

Joe and I love to spend hours at various beaches, just relaxing, snorkeling and beach glass hunting.  I came home with lots of beach glass this trip.  We also visited Saba Rock, and also had a nice meal there.   Also visited the Bitter End Yacht club, Cane Garden Bay, and Cooper Island before sailing back to the base at the end of our trip.

It was a wonderful trip and I can’t wait to do it again!  Next trip planned is tenatively set for next spring in the Bahamas.

Back now to the land of quilting and arts!  It is good to be home.  Hugs, Carla

Gobble Gobble

Can anyone guess what he is doing?

I took this picture at my back door.  He is looking at himself in the french door window and thinks it is a rival come to take over his turf and women.  Here is the proof:

He was posturing and strutting his manly self back and forth for almost a half hour.  It was pretty funny.  He was clueless that my cat walked right by him or I was on the other side of the window taking pictures.

How many people get visiting turkeys, cows or other wildlife to entertain them?

A shout out to all the fathers reading this.  Enjoy your day!  I tried to spoil Joe and make HIM coffee for a change, but for some reason, he turned me down.  I did buy him a Kitchen Aid mixer and a fancy 4 qt. cast iron cooker for his Father’s Day present.  I fully support having a man who cooks, so I want to encourage him.  LOL

Off to call my father now and wish him a happy day!  Carla

WIP Wednesday

Hello, I have been quilting and beading like mad…I should have some cool photos to show you by tomorrow of the quilt I am finishing for Nancy.  From a quilting standpoint, it does present some design challenges, but I will show you how I got around it.

I am also waiting for my new computer motherboard upgrade for my longarm machine.  I decided it was time to upgrade at last, bringing my machine up to speed with the latest edition.

Wonder how Oscar is?  Oscar is my favorite kitty, and he follows me around all day from room to room.  Nirvana for him is laying across my chest, purring, and wanting attention.  Here is what Oscar looks like:

Oscar was attacked by an unknown animal, and so off to the vet we went.  Right now, Oscar is feeling much better, halfway through his antibiotics.  I take him back to the vet next week for his rabies booster, and to double check how his infection is.

Joe has been lobbying me for a new dog to replace Rex.  I have been dragging my feet as Rex is a hard dog to follow.  If we consider doing this, what breed this time?  I think I would want a smaller dog than Rex- who was about 100 pounds.  The dog would need to be friendly, yet bark when strangers show up.  Nice around the grandkids, too, and not a biter.   What breed do you feel fits the bill?

That’s all for now.  Look for another yacht trip soon, more quilts, and a summer beading project.  Hugs, Carla

Meet Kate

During my vacation, I got to spend lots of quality bonding time with the grandkids.  Jack is very funny and is also very active.  Kate, who was born earlier this year, is a nursing baby, so I haven’t babysat her very often before this trip.

Here is a picture of Kate, lifted borrowed from my DIL’s facebook page:

I was so excited to get to know Kate on this family trip.  I got to hold her quite a bit and play noise games back and forth.  She melts my heart, just like Jack did at this age.  I freely admit to being mushy, but grandmothers are known to do this on occasion.

Anyway, I haven’t written much about the grandkids in a long while, so I thought it was time.  Next post tomorrow: my funny car rental story.  Real life happens when you least expect it.

Flight Adventure

Author Dean Koontz has a book, titled “Sole Survivor,” where the main character’s wife and two children perished in a plane crash aboard United Flight 353.  Keep this Flight number in your mind- while I share my story.

I have never been crazy about flying.  I do fine on flights, remembering that I read once that you are safer in an airplane than traveling in a car.  I was a bit unsettled though, when Joe changed my flight so that I could travel with him, my son, daughter-in-law, and my two adorable grandchildren, Jack and Kate.  I remember thinking that 6 family members on one flight was testing fate.

The first leg of travel from Springfield, MO to Denver went fine.  The second flight, United 353, from Denver to Sacramento, was on time and going well.  Joe and I were in the row just in front of the kids and grandchildren- in rows 18 & 19.  All of a sudden, the smell of burning plastic became very strong in our section of the plane.  The customers who could smell it were pretty unsettled and crew were called.  They raced around looking for the source.  I remember one flight attendant saying that the smell was strongest in the rows near us.

Overhead bins were opened and the search continued.  My son mentioned to the crew that his audio was no longer working in his row.  Based on this, they turned the movie and audio system off.  Finally, the captain came on and told us that the plane was going to land at the closest airport for safety reasons- which was Reno.

I have to give United flight crew bonus points for keeping calm, being professional, and handling the problem as they did.  It was very stressful for the passengers who could smell the odor, I will tell you that.  Despite the stress, the passengers around us all kept calm and rather quiet.

For me, I happen to be married to an engineer, whose first job out of college was working on DC-10 air conditioning systems.  Joe also reads up on plane crashes and what failures- or series of failures lead to plane crashes.  I decided to use Joe as a thermometer as to how upset I would be.  He was cool, so I would be, too.

I am writing this, so you know the ending.  The plane was met at Reno with at least 4 fire trucks, and other rescue crew.  They chased us down the runway as we landed, lights flashing.  We landed and the rows who could smell the burning smell all cheered.  The front of the plane remained rather quiet, probably annoyed by the delay.

Once off the plane, I took these two pictures.  The first shows the plane, UA353:

and the second picture shows some fire trucks on the scene.  Btw, the plane on the right was the plane which they used to finally get all the passengers to Sacramento:

We finally made it to Sacramento about 2 hours late.  We spent the time in Reno keeping Jack away from the slot machines, which lined the terminal aisle.  The kids did great flying all day and being very tired.

United staff did a great job handling the issue and even gave each passenger a voucher for $100.  Thanks to the Flight Crew, too, as they were very professional throughout.

So that is my UA Flight 353 adventure.  My only advice for United is to probably retire the name UA353 name due to fatal event described in the Koontz book.  The number has bad joo-joo or karma, I think.

Oh yes, remember my calm husband?  Later he told me he was thinking of Swiss Air MD-11 that was brought down by a fire started from an electrical short.  All on board perished when the airline flew into the ocean.  He decided I was better off not knowing this particular fact at that moment.

Happy Flying!!  Carla

I’m Back!!!

Back home now from teaching at International Machine Quilting Showcase (MQS) and visiting my family in Missouri.  Had a great time during my travels and have LOTS of stories to tell you in the coming week (s)- including adventures that always seem to happen to me. LOL!

This was my first year teaching at MQS and my classes went great!  So good, I was already asked back for next year!  What a wonderful complement.

The Good News: Meeting people, socializing, teaching, booths, making new friends, etc.

The Bad News: The death of my beloved tablet laptop- the tool I use to draw my cartoon and draw on quilts.  This means I need to research and buy a new one.  I did get about 5 years out of it, so I knew it was on its last leg.  May it rest in peace!

Anyway, It is good to be home again, and I must say I missed all of you!  Stay tuned for my first story…. it involved an airplane & the drama of plastic burning smell with 6 family members on board the plane.   Until then….

Autism Awareness Month

Today, I want to talk about a disability condition that is affecting many individuals and their families…. autism.  April is Autism Awareness Month, so I wanted to share just a bit of insight into this disorder from a mother of a handsome young man who is also autistic.

Joseph is Joe and I’s youngest child, and we knew something wasn’t quite typical from a very early age when his speech and language were delayed.  At age 2, he started receiving speech therapy, and later started to a special education preschool program for communicative handicapped before being mainstreamed to a neighborhood school.

His early school years were interesting.  I remember the time he was left alone on the kindergarten playground, then broke his wrist when he fell off the slide.  Or teacher reports of his spending time watching the water splash over his hands or being in his own world. It was clear he needed the extra assistance of an aide at school- which we advocated for and received.

Middle and early high school years were very difficult for both Joseph and the family. Because he couldn’t quite communicate, he began to act out in frustration.  The low point for us was his school program.  He didn’t fit in a special day class because he was very bright; but a typical classroom, even with an aide, also didn’t work.  The school district talked us into this one program, which turned out to have untrained staff who would literally lock him in a small room and restrain him for little cause. When we discovered this, we removed him and filed a complaint, but the psychological trauma to Joseph took years to heal.

Eventually, the lack of local services lead to our hiring an educational consultant and finding a gold standard program in another state for Joseph’s high school years.  This program taught Joseph to communicate his feelings and taught him lots of social skill and academics.  Plus, for the first time, he had friends and got to play sports such as lacrosse and soccer.

This school program was a godsend for our family, but there were little glitches, like the time he got lost in Chicago O’Hare airport for several days on a routine flight home from school.  Several police agencies were involved in the search, as well as the airline which lost him.  On Day 3, he was located sleeping in the terminal, a very hungry young man.  The airline put him on the very next flight, first class, and also fed him.  After this adventure, we always made sure Joseph carried with him our contact info, calling card, and money instead of placing it in his checked luggage.

Joseph & Grandma at Graduation

Joseph & Grandma at Graduation

Graduation was a special event for our family.  Joe and I burst with pride as we watched him stand and present the senior class gift in front of the packed event.  He was so handsome wearing his cap and gown, and the idea he would be speaking in public confidently was a dream realized.

Transition to adulthood was the next challenge.  In a rural county with no services, we tried to fill the gap the best we could.  When his skills started regressing, I knew we needed to do something more proactive.    I did my research and located a wonderful program in Northern CA Bay Area only 2 hours away, where he has lived for the last year.

Joseph now resides in his own apartment, with staff to check on him as needed.  All of his needs are met next door at the large building- skill classes, recreation, medical, medication, etc.  Best of all, he has friends once again, and even met a special young woman- who he has been dating for almost a year now.  I had always hoped he would find someone to love and return the feeling.  Another dream realized.

Obviously, this is the short version of our journey raising an autistic young man to adulthood.  There were many trials and tears along the way; including grieving the loss of the dream all parents have when they bring the newborn home from the hospital.  While our journey was different, it was rich nonetheless.  Joseph is a delightful, sensitive young man, and I am richer for having the pleasure to raise him.

No one knows why autism happens, though current scientific studies are leaning towards a genetic base with possibly an environmental trigger.  It cannot be “cured,” as one Hollywood mother likes to say in the media.  If caught early enough and provided intensive services, the child can show an improvement in symptoms, but that is all.  We learned that improvement can happen, even at an older age, with the right methodology approach.  But the autism is still there.

Having parented an autistic child for about 2 and 1/2 decades, I have seen many  so-called “treatments” come and go.  I have also noticed a strong need for parents to “fix” the child, particularly in the first few years after diagnosis.  Eventually, Joe and I finally reached a place of acceptance for what was…. the diagnosis, the reality he would need life long care and assistance, the realization that we love our son, no matter what.

If you happen to have a loved one with autism, or know of a family with a child with autism, please reach out to them with non-judgmental love and acceptance.  Do a small random act of kindness for the mother, who typically is the caretaker.  The best thing I needed during the early years was just a few hours of rest or fun diversion.  Laughter is the best restorative medicine I know.

My friend, Lori, was always there to listen to me when I needed her.  I have been so thankful for her friendship and non-judgmental acceptance and understanding over the last 20+ years.  If you know a parent of a child with autism, consider being such a friend to them and lend an ear to listen.

I know this post is pretty long, but I wanted to share some of my thoughts about autism.  Please consider leaving a comment if my post touches your heart or you can relate to this topic.  Regards, Carla