Sunday, July 27, 2008


I used to think that anyone who bought a timeshare was nuts. How could they ever use it enough to recoup the awful cost of them? Then my daughter Heather and SIL Ed got a timeshare. They didn't buy it new, it was gifted to them by Ed's parents. And as they figured out how to use it, I started reading and asking questions. Who knew that you could swap your week at Place X and use it for Place Y? (Lots of people knew, I just wasn't one of them!)

So last summer Heather and Ed used one of their stored weeks (you can save weeks!) to get two units at Star Island in Orlando, and I went with them. Fabulous place! Later in the summer they used a week at their home location of the Flagship in Atlantic City. Not so fabulous, but the place is being renovated, and she put in late for it.

I started casually reading the timeshares for sale on ebay. Some wonderful deals, but I didn't feel brave or knowledgeable enough to buy, or even bid. Then in April, a friend of Ed's Mom was ill and wanted to sell off two of her timeshares. Steph and I each bought a week at Shawnee in the Poconos. Getting the transfer is still going on! I had to find a title company, then they had to find a Pa. lawyer to write the new deeds. That was finally done, and we did the signing and notarizing right before July 4. Now it's back to the lawyer for the deed to be recorded. Hopefully, that'll come thru soon!

When that happens, we have to join RCI, which is the week swapping company. Soon as we join, the timeshare lady will deposit 3 back weeks and 2 current weeks into our accounts, and we can make plans to use them!

I've joined and Timeshares Users Group and I've been reading the bulletin boards on both. On TUG, there are several reviews of Shawnee, and it sounds decent but not fabulous.

So now I'm not only reading all the quilting groups and the mystery groups and the blogs, I've added the two timeshare groups! I have to limit my time on the computer, or I'll never get anything else done!

Things to be happy about:
Playing with Eddie and Julie last night
Toast got a haircut and looks cute and adorable
I made blueberry pancakes this morning and they were terrific!

This weeks goals:
Harass Ralph til the curtains get put back up
Step3 of OC


Friday, July 25, 2008


I have this goal of posting at least twice a week, especially in the summer, when I'm not working. I was just looking at the specific goals for this week, and I met them! Uncle Frank's funeral went as well as a funeral can. I made two sets of covers for Heather's bench cushion, and gave them to her to take home, and Julianna's sundress is almost done, I need to put the straps on, but I have to have her here to measure for them.

I did some sewing last night. I finished a set of four pillowcases for someone who has a birthday coming up soon. The pillowcases and a gift card will be their gift.

I'm way, way behind on Orange Crush. I've completed steps 1 and 2, then I got sidetracked with Ben's quilt. Last night I was reading a shortcut to step 3, and I think that'll be my next project, to complete OC. It's the only quilt that I have in progress, unless you count the tops that are done and waiting to be quilted.

I've been crocheting every day. I'm making a blue and white afghan that will be a gift for later this year.


Monday, July 21, 2008

Life and Death

Life may not be the party we hoped for, but while we're here, we should dance.

I stole that saying from someone else's blog, because it made me smile. It sounds so much cooler than the saying about making lemonade when life gives us lemons.

Today was a lemon day. Ralph worked all weekend, and last night at 11 p.m. realized that he had no idea where his dress shoes were. He and Steph searched his closet, and even looked downstairs. No shoes. All he had were sandals and his work sneakers, neither of which were appropriate to wear to a funeral. So he ended up at Walmart at 4.30 this morning, buying shoes. While he was there, he bought 3 pairs, and some socks. He was home by 6, and we were eating scrambled eggs by 7.

The funeral home had done a wonderful job with Uncle Frank. He looked very thin, and so resembled his father! Family members, friends and acquaintances wandered in and out of the viewing. We saw cousins that we only see at funerals- how sad is that?

Then it was on to the church for a mass. As I said to Heather, the fact that the roof didn't fall in when we entered was a good sign! The mass was the usual pomp and ceremony that a mass is. Not being catholic, most of it makes absolutely no sense to me, but I can go with the flow with the best of them. Then into the limo, and off for the hour ride to the cemetery. It's a big old cemetery in Yeadon, which is past Philly airport. It had huge, gorgeous monuments, and is beautiful.

Then back to our home area for a funeral luncheon. It was nice to sit and visit with the family, and wind down. Back home, and naps all around. The 95 degree heat didn't help anyone.

So now the ceremonial part of death is completed, and the practical part kicks in. Ralph and his mom and brother have their work cut out- cleaning and disposing of the trailer, and all the paperwork that it takes to complete the circle. And the mourning.

Rest in peace, Uncle Frank. We'll miss you. And we're happy that you danced while you were in this party that we call life.


Saturday, July 19, 2008

I'm so proud of myself!

I'm not the most computer literate person in the world. (My kids can stop laughing hysterically). I wanted to add the links of blogs that I like to read, and I went into dashboard and figured it out and did it! All by myself!

This morning I drove Steph to King of Prussia, a 40 mile trip, for her one day checkup after her lasix surgery. It was a real pain, as Rt 76 was back up for miles with so called paving going on. So after we drove an hour and a half there, she had a 2 minute checkup, and we drove an hour back to Cherry Hill to pick up her car, Steph took me out to lunch at the Cheesecake Factory. I got this immense Club Sandwich, and brought most of it home for Ralph. It was really good, but sooo big!

Toast and I napped this afternoon after I got home. Then, I went into the sewing room and actually did some sewing! No quilting, but some sewing. Ralph had a pair of scrubs that the seam pulled out, Heather had two nightshirts that she wanted the sleeves shortened, and I made covers for the foam top of her foyer bench. I made a set of covers out of a red snowman fabric that she'd picked out. She also picked a green leaf print, so that'll be next.

Things that make me happy:
Spending time with Steph
Going to the library
Admiring my new windows

Goals for the week:
Survive Uncle Frank's funeral
Make the green covers for Heather
Make the last sundress for Julianna


Friday, July 18, 2008

I'm so confused!

I love being off work for the summer, but it puts me in a permanent state of confusion. What day is it, anyway? Back when I worked in the hospital, you checked to see if a person was oriented by asking "What day is it?" I fail that one bigtime.

Yesterday the other half of our replacement windows, and the dining room slider were put in. They look fabulous! We're hoping it will make a difference in energy consumption. And it'll be great to be able to open windows without having to wedge books into the opening!

Yesterday when I was here with the window guys, Ralph, his Mom, and Helen made the funeral arrangements for Uncle Frank. Everything will be on Monday, with a luncheon afterward at Charlie Brown's Resturant. That's the same place where the luncheons were held after the funerals of Ralph's Dad and my Dad. It's close, reasonably priced, and they have a separate room for groups.

Manda, after a lot of soul searching, decided not to come home. Flights with no notice are expense, and she'd only be here for a day or so. And it's a longish flight, 3.5 hours to fly in from Houston.

Tomorrow Steph gets her eyeballs lasered, so I'll pick her up and bring her here to sleep off the xanax they'll give her. Ralph and his brother Frank are going to Uncle Frank's to do some clean up and sorting, and Charlotte is going to look into flowers for the funeral. Uncle Frank didn't want any, but tough.

And now I'm going to bed. What day is it again?


Wednesday, July 16, 2008


For what is it to die, but to stand in the sun and melt into the wind? And when the Earth has claimed our limbs, then we shall truly dance.

Kahlil Gibran

We got the phone call late last night, Uncle Frank passed away peacefully. Today the funeral arrangements will be made.

Rest in Peace, Uncle Frank. We love you.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Death Be Not Proud

DEATH be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadfull, for, thou art not so.

John Donne

Uncle Frank is Ralph's uncle, and he's dying. He has cancer, and he's fought the good fight for years, but he's losing, as we all do eventually. He's lived alone until a couple of months ago, when he couldn't get out of bed. Ralph took him to the hospital, and he went from there to rehab, then to long term care.

Being in the nursing home pissed him off. Nothing about the place suited him, especially the part about him having to be there. If he was physically able, I think he would have walked out. And who can blame him- he went from having a life, to being totally dependent on others, within a month.

Over the last month, he's gotten progressively weaker. A couple of weeks ago he stopped eating. He's done. Hospice has been called in to keep him comfortable, as per his wishes. In a period of lucidity, he told Ralph where he wants to be buried, and even what kind of coffin he wants.

Ralph's Mom, Florence, visits her brother every day. This is so hard for her- this is her little brother!
Ralph's brother Frank visits several times a week, and the strain is showing on him, also. Some of the "kids"- Uncle Franks great nephews and nieces - have been in to see him. My kids always called him Uncle Uncle Frank, to differentiate him from their Uncle Frank. When Heather went to see him, he thought she was Stephanie.

Helen goes almost every day. She's been Uncle Frank's best friend for years and years, and she's so good with him. The one day Ralph and I were talking to her, we were all okay, then she started to cry, and we all cried. We're all on the same page here, we know he's dying, and we so don't want him to be in any pain, and we don't want him to be afraid.

At this point, Death is Uncle Frank's friend. Death will be the permanent release from pain. We all hope there really is a Heaven (some of us are more sure of it than others of us), and if there is, we'll see him there.


Friday, July 11, 2008

Sur la Table

I'm so annoyed! I had this great blog entry written, then blogger got goofy and lost it! So much for the annoying autosave, it didn't work!

So anyway. When I was in Houston, Manda and I took a Summer Pies and Tarts class at Sur La Table. Lots of fun, and I put on the eval that they needed a store in south jersey.

When I got back, Steph was on the website, and there is at Sagemore, which is an upscale shopping center about 8 miles from here that I very rarely go to, not being an upscale person. So last night we took a Summer Desserts class.

It was wonderful! We were divided into 3 groups, and each group made one or two dishes. The teacher/chef supervised, and when one group was doing something new or interesting, she'd call us all over to see. Our group made a peach blackberry crumble, which was really good, and rocky road s'mores, which were a little two chocolaty- I'd change the ice cream to vanilla.

Another group made a sour cherry necterine cobbler, which was on the tart side. The third made vanilla ice cream, and honeydew granita.

The granita was so cool! They took a honeydew, and pureed the melon part in a food processor. Strained it, and mixed the juice with some sugar, poured it in a pan and put it in the freezer. After a half hour, they scored it with a fork and put back in the freezer. It was done when it was the consistancy of snow.

Put fresh raspberries and a little chopped mint leaf in a little glass bowl, and spoon some granita over it. Wow! So light and fresh and wonderful!

Steph signed up for a mediterranean meal class, which I won't take because they make a shellfish dish. I signed up for a No Bake Dessert class and a ravioli class, at times when Steph has classes.

And, they give you a coupon for 15% off any purchases that day, and that includes classes that you sign up for! It was a really fun evening. We all got to eat everything made, and all got all the recipes.


Monday, July 7, 2008

A quarter of a centrury old!

Today my baby turns 25! A milestone- she's now old enough to rent a car!

Stephanie Susan was born on a Thursday, at 10.15 a.m. and weighed 7 lbs. She was a tiny little thing- even our doctor joked about her being so small, after her older sisters weighed 8 lbs 7 oz, ad 9 lbs, 7 oz. She wasn't named until she was 2 days old- we were still discussing names. Ralph wanted the name Alycia, to which I responded that if I died in childbirth, he could use that name. To me, Alycia was the awful kid that lived behind us in our first house. He thought of Stephanie, and she looked like a Stephanie. Her middle name was going to be Sue, which is my middle name and Ralph's grandmom's americanized name, but Stephie Sue sounded too much like a country western song.

Of course, Stephanie was immediately shortened to Beps by Manda, who was 2 at the time.

Being the youngest and smallest, Steph of course was the bossiest from the time she could talk! She was so tiny, and had this short, straight hair, that we called her the Gelfling, from a Muppet movie.

Steph scared us all half to death when she developed appendicitis at age 11, but she did fine. She's the only one in the family who ever had her appendix out! She had the lap surgery, and was roller skating a week later.

Steph is now working for ISO, and works with fire chiefs all over the country. She got an associate's in business, and ISO paid for another associates in fire science. She's now attending Holy Family University in Philly, going for a Bachelor's in Fire Science, courtesy of ISO. She has her first apartment, near the university, where she lives with her mini-doxie, Toast.

She's gone from a tiny baby to an intelligent and beautiful young woman.
Happy Birthday Stephanie!

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Manda, John and I.

It's my little brother's birthday!

So what if he's 51, and taller than I am, John is still my little brother! I have two younger brothers, and John is the youngest.

The week John turned 21, he was in a bad motorcycle accident. He was on a big Harley, with no mufflers, but a driver didn't see or hear him and turned right in front of him. John reportedly flew about 20 feet thru the air, and thankfully had a helmet on. We got the call that he was at a local hospital, but needed to be transferred to a city hospital for a spinal cord injury.

John was taken to Jefferson Hospital in Philly, where he had surgery for a T12-L1 fracture. They took a chunk from his hip to use as a patch. The neurologist told us he would never walk again. We were all devastated.

The neuro was wrong, and John began to get sensation and movement back. He was in what is called a clamshell brace. Every day my Mom would take the highspeed line to Philly and walk a mile to Jefferson to see him. The rest of us went up a couple of times a week. As each friend saw John for the first time, they were shocked.

John's friend Charlie would work construction all day, then go, still filthy, right to the hospital to spend time with John. Many nights he used the shower in John's room to clean up. He did this every day for months! (When we were recently talking about that time period, Charlie said the experience was very valuable to him, as it taught him how to be a real friend.)

Eventually John was moved to Magee Rehab, also in Philly. By the following spring, he was allowed to come home in a wheelchair, still in the clamshell brace. He wouldn't be allowed to stand for a full year after the accident.

I can remember taking John to the Berlin Auction, which is like a low class mall, and him disappearing! I was beside myself- how was I going to explain to my parents that I lost my brother, who was in a wheelchair!

John made a wonderful recovery. His only deficits are that he can only lift a limited amount, and his abdominal muscles atrophied somewhat. And he can't stand on his head anymore.

John lives in Florida with his wonderful wife Morgan. They have 20+ acres and raise a bunch of livestock, in addition to him working for a pump company. He plays the bagpipes, and his dogs sing along. He's a great guy, and I'm proud to be his big sister.

Happy Birthday John!

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Houston Pictures

The first picture is at the Painted Pony Quilt Shop in LaPorte, Texas. I went with Carol, who's in the middle, and Susan, who's on the left. They are friends from the HGTV quilting message boards.
The next two pictures are of Ben, Manda and I with Ben's quilt that I made for him.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Houston, part two

On Saturday we went to Hobby Lobby, a store we don't have in the Northeast. I'd made Manda a counted XS sampler years ago, and never had it framed. It has dreamcatchers, and says "Follow your dreams, wherever they lead you". So she picked out matting and a frame, and it'll be done in about 3 weeks. I got a couple yards of fabric, of course.

We had lunch at a deli called McAllister's, which was very nice, then left Ralph and Ben to do manly things, aka go to an electronics store, while we headed off to our Summer Pie and Tarts class in Houston, at a store called La Sur de Table. It was a big kitchen supplies store, with a kitchen classroom. The instructor was a pastry chef named Rebecca Masson. We were divided into 4 groups, and each group made a project with Rebecca's help, and the rest watched. Then everyone got to sample everything. My group made a chocolate orange tart, which was fabulous. Other projects were a blueberry necterine pie, a lemon tart, and an apple pie. We got all the recipes to keep.

Back to Manda's to pick up Ben and Ralph, and go to a housewarming for a team member of Ben's. It was a fabulous house, and Andres and Lili hired a man who owns a taqueria to make fresh tacos outside on a cooker. The whole place smelled so good! We talked to people from all over who work at JSC, and had a really nice time.

Sunday we went out for Barbecue for lunch, then to Hancock's Fabrics, another store we don't have in the NE. I was disappointed that none of the quilt shops in the area were open on Sunday- Houston stores are big on being closed all day Sunday. We went to see the new Disney movie, Walle, which they all loved, and I found OK. Out to dinner at Cracker Barrel, then back to Manda's to visit. Ben tortured me by telling me he was planning to nail his quilt to the wall for a wallhanging. We packed up our stuff for the trip home.

Monday morning it was out to breakfast at La Madeline's, then to the airport to drop me off, then Manda took Ralph to the bus station. I was home by 5 pm Monday, Ralph got home yesterday around 3.

It was a wonderful trip, and the days flew by.


Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Houston Trip- Part One

The day started out not so good- Rapid Rover was late, and I was the first of 4 stops. We got to Philly airport at 6.30, and my flight started boarding at 7.30. By the time I cleared security and got to my gate, there was only 20 minutes til boarding! If the security line had been long, I'd have had a real problem.

The flight was good- in fact, I slept the first hour of it! And I was brave enough to look out the window! Manda picked me up at the Houston airport, and we went into the city to go to the Cheesecake Factory for lunch. What a menu, it's like a book! We ate, and took 4 slices of cheescake to go. There was a terrible thunderstorm. We went back to her apartment in Clear Lake, and napped for an hour til Ralph called to say he was in at the bus station. Back to Houston (20 miles) to get him, then out to dinner at Frenchie's, which is right next to Johnson Space Center. It's a little place in a strip mall, with fabulous food. Ralph was exhausted after 40+ hours on trains and busses, so back to Manda's so he could shower and we could go to bed early.

Friday morning Manda and Ralph were going off to JSC so he could have (another) tour. I got picked up by Needlecrazy, a friend I've made thru the quilting boards on HGTV website. I've chatted with her for years, and had lunch with her last November at Quilt Fest. We went to a fantastic quilt shop called the Painted Pony, about a half hour from Manda's. There we met up with Texas Wildflower, another HGTV'er. What a store! It's in a strip mall, and they've expanded to the size of several stores. It's huge! We did our best to help the economy. We asked the staff to take our picture, and they were so intrigued by the fact that we had met online. A thunderstorm was coming, so we decided to go to lunch. The staff recommended a tearoom down the street called Jeanieann's, so we headed down there for some home cooking. We ate and visited, the Needlecrazy drove me back to Manda's. I got back 5 minutes before Manda and Ralph.

Manda had class Friday night, so Ralph played with her TV and laptop, and I read. On her way home, she picked up Ben so that we could all go out for gelati. I gave Ben his quilt, and he loved it! (pix to follow when Ralph gets home and helps me download them).

Houston Trip, part two, to follow.