Thank you for visiting my blog

A casual blog highlighting my life with kids, grandkids and kitties...Also an avenue to show some items from my etsy shops.


**Please note..The other half of my life is dovoted to helping feral and free roaming cats in Walnut and the surrounding areas. You can learn more and follow our activites there at Walnut Iowa's Feral Cat Program! **







Wednesday, December 31, 2008

This is Just Sick!!!


I'm taking the day to clean up my attic, which is also my "studio", "workroom...for all my quilting and sewing material, fabrics and notions. My sister Kris is going to visit in a few days and we are planning to have a couple "sew days" up there. I thought I better make some space for us to work. It is in horrible shape, I tend to use that space as a catch all for anything and everything else I don't know what to do with and with Christmas decorating on top of it all, that space has become way out of hand.


No only do I have too much fabric, but I also have unfinished projects from years and kits that Ive purchased to do. Sad thing is These pics only show part of my total "stash"!  So I am looking for new scrap quilt patterns.  If you can help, I am open!

"Quilting Tip of the Day!"
Regarding scrap quilts, this time focusing on creating quilts that look vintage or antique...( by Jill Reid, from a booklet I got from Windham Fabrics)
  • Don't over think your color combinations! If you study antique quilts, there are many unusual color combinations presumably because they used what they had available. You would be surprised how appealing these "odd" pairings can be.
Happy Quilting!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Over for another year....

Our Christmas!
Yesterday we had our big family Christmas! How fun it was to have all but one of our family with us...All seven grandkids and 3 of our four children.

We got to chat with Jeff long distance from Japan on our new Skype and our new web cam. How fun it was for all 16 of us to pile in the room in front of the computer screen and tease Jeff. I hope he felt a little bit like he was home with us. It was pretty hard not to be silly especially when you know he cant reach out and smack ya! It's so good to see him laugh. His smile lights up my heart.

Having Brian back from Iraq is such a blessing, but having him here with us for the first Christmas in over a decade was wonderful. Thank you Lord, for keeping him safe.

Josh is our new "rib man". We waived from traditional fare this year. I figured everyone would be quite tired of turkey and ham and knowing that baby back ribs are a favorite of Lauren's Josh, we decided to make them the main entree...He did a fantastic job and everyone woofed them down. We think we will keep him around awhile...a long while I hope! Oh! What is a baby back rib you might ask? Ben has the answers, the rest of us didn't listen close enough to his lecture about that... :)

Grandma Clara was the hit of the day for bringing batman toys for the boys. Faith was NOT to be left out..The boys were so cute in their masks and played with the actions figures all day. They were calling each other the "Bat-Brothers". I had crafts for them to do if they got bored, but will save those for another time, as being bored was the furthest thing from reality! They built bat caves, and danced to old Micky Mouse Club songs. Believe me they crashed last night and slept like 3 little logs.

We were able to see our little Ellie really walk for the first time. She has been taking baby steps for awhile, but she is off and running now! Such a beautiful and good-natured little angel.

They all left this morning and now the house is quiet again. Ricky has come out of hiding and Lucy (the most social one) is napping. Larry is settling down in front of the TV for some football. We are tired, but oh so happy to have had this time with our "off-spring". God is good.

Christmas is over for another year. Which means another year is gone. I feel so happy and blessed to have been given this family. To be able to have them all home at one time is awesome. Even tho Jeff was so far away, modern technology assisted in bringing him right into the room with us! I am grateful. This year is gone, but a new one is about to begin. Yes, I will make some resolutions...that most likely will be broken. Its fun to make goals and at least try to "turn over a new leaf". I will share mine when my list is complete.

Quilting Tip of the Day!


With the New Year right around the corner, make some goals for your quilting "life". Here are mine:
  • Organize my sewing room(usually ends up being a monthly thing!)
  • Finish at least one unfinished project a month
  • Make MY quilt tops a priority to get quilted
Happy Quilting!

Friday, December 26, 2008

A Dose of Reality?


Week of December 26

The Arrival
by Max Lucado

God had entered the world as a baby.

Yet, were someone to chance upon the sheep stable on the outskirts of Bethlehem that morning, what a peculiar scene they would behold.

The stable stinks like all stables do. The stench of urine, dung, and sheep reeks pungently in the air. The ground is hard, the hay scarce. Cobwebs cling to the ceiling and a mouse scurries across the dirt floor.

A more lowly place of birth could not exist.

Off to one side sit a group of shepherds. They sit silently on the floor; perhaps perplexed, perhaps in awe, no doubt in amazement. Their night watch had been interrupted by an explosion of light from heaven and a symphony of angels. God goes to those who have time to hear him--so on this cloudless night he went to simple shepherds.

Near the young mother sits the weary father. If anyone is dozing, he is. He can't remember the last time he sat down. And now that the excitement has subsided a bit, now that Mary and the baby are comfortable, he leans against the wall of the stable and feels his eyes grow heavy. He still hasn't figured it all out. The mystery of the event puzzles him. But he hasn't the energy to wrestle with the questions. What's important is that the baby is fine and that Mary is safe. As sleep comes he remembers the name the angel told him to use ... Jesus. "We will call him Jesus."

Wide awake is Mary. My, how young she looks! Her head rests on the soft leather of Joseph's saddle. The pain has been eclipsed by wonder. She looks into the face of the baby. Her son. Her Lord. His Majesty. At this point in history, the human being who best understands who God is and what he is doing is a teenage girl in a smelly stable. She can't take her eyes off him. Somehow Mary knows she is holding God. So this is he. She remembers the words of the angel. "His kingdom will never end." (Luke 1:33)

He looks like anything but a king. His face is prunish and red. His cry, though strong and healthy, is still the helpless and piercing cry of a baby. And he is absolutely dependent upon Mary for his well-being.

Majesty in the midst of the mundane. Holiness in the filth of sheep manure and sweat. Divinity entering the world on the floor of a stable, through the womb of a teenager and in the presence of a carpenter.

She touches the face of the infant-God. How long was your journey!

This baby had overlooked the universe. These rags keeping him warm were the robes of eternity. His golden throne room had been abandoned in favor of a dirty sheep pen. And worshiping angels had been replaced with kind but bewildered shepherds.

Meanwhile, the city hums. The merchants are unaware that God has visited their planet. The innkeeper would never believe that he had just sent God into the cold. And the people would scoff at anyone who told them the Messiah lay in the arms of a teenager on the outskirts of their village. They were all too busy to consider the possibility.

Those who missed His Majesty's arrival that night missed it not because of evil acts or malice; no, they missed it because they simply weren't looking.

Little has changed in the last two thousand years, has it?


Cast of CharactersFrom
God Came Near
© (Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2006) Max Lucado

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Just Fabulous Cookies!


Christmas is about memories! One of my favorites is when the kids would help me "bake". These little bite sized yummies is one of the treats we would annually put together, together. I remember one Christmas when I made sugar cookie dough and let the kids have a hay-day with it and we made cookie sheets full of these little "cookies" . I video-taped the escapade and asked the kids what they were doing. Jeff ( just 5 ) turned to the camera, holding a sheet-load of these and said. "We are makin' cookies...just fabulous cookies!" So that became their official name. Jeff, I wish you were here to make cookies with me, but in my heart I know that if you were here, you wouldn't be making cookies with your mama!

Fabulous Cookies

Round Pretzels
Almond Bark
M&Ms
(Fancy Cashews are good too!)
  • Line cookie sheet with wax paper
  • Lay out pretzels
  • Melt about 3 blocks of bard at a time, so it doesn't get hard before you are done
  • use a teaspoon, put a dollop of bark in the center of the pretzels
  • place an M&M in the center, be sure you squish it enough so that all the bark is touching the inside edges of the pretzel.
  • Allow bark to dry before putting them on a plate or in a tin.
Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

My Gifts!

Pictured above is the ornament I received today as a my part of an exchange we did on Navy Moms USS George Washington discussion group. Isn't it beautiful? It came from Sheryl G. in California! I love it, love it, love it! This little ornament symbolizes the unique relationship we ladies on Navy for moms have. We very well may never meet each other, this side of heaven, but there is a bond because of what we are going through with military kids. Thank you Sheryl! This will be sparkling on my tree for years to come!

As I grow older, it seems its the little things that touch my heart the most. My love language has always been"gifts" and Ive always loved packages, cards and surprises. Some of the things I have loved the most are gifts from the heart, not gifts that have broken the bank! Except of course the beautiful diamond ring my darling husband bought me 3 years ago for Christmas! THAT was the gift of all gifts, never to be topped! But when I think of the gifts I really remember, they are the ones that weren't on my "list", things that most times cant be found in a department store or gift shop...

  • I have a stack of those little cards you get with flowers and computer home made cards that have come from Larry. He has always written the sweetest love notes. He says he isn't creative, but these written words from him are precious to me. I don't remember so much flowers as I do the words. Larry's gift are always the greatest, but it's the love letters that really stick with me!
  • I also have a small stack of birthday and Christmas cards from my Dad, who we lost last February. He was never really much for words, but in his last years, he seemed to soften some and even ended our phone conversations with " I love you, honey". He also gave some final gifts that were more than the normal Christmas Check...earrings, bracelet and a necklace that I consider priceless.
  • I have two pictures that I got from Lauren each talking about the unconditional love of a mom etc. I have them in my sewing room and each time I look at them, my heart warms. Looking at these remind me what we have gone through together. Watching her grow into a mature, beautiful young woman and awesome mom, has been a blessing to me. To say that my daughter is one of my best friends is a great gift!
  • I have photos on the fridge that were made especially for me by my grandchildren for valentines day and other things. I look at them each time I open the fridge ( which is way too often) and enjoy, enjoy, enjoy!
  • Then I have the gift of Jeff's annual letter. I wont even go into that today. I will wait for another time when I have the time to sit and share...maybe even on Christmas Day.
So, as I age, I think I'm becoming less of a gift person and more of a "encouraging word" person...What I find I am valuing is not things, but people! We are so blessed to have a family of four children who love and respect us and that we in turn, love and respect. We are enjoying watching our 7 grandchildren grow. We are enjoying each other. I am enjoying the time to spend with friends and family and being involved in things I've always dreamed of being able to do.

My life is a gift. I thank the Lord every day for his provision of health, wealth and happiness! As Christmas gets nearer, I hope you, too will think about what is important in your life and not only be grateful, but show gratefulness for what you have.

Quilting Tip of the day...
Take the rest of the week off from quilting and enjoy your family!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Navy Moms Rule!



Today has been a virtual whirlwind! Nationally the weather is horrible! We have frigid cold weather with dangerous wind chill temperatures hitting -30 and more! There is ice and snow both on the east coast and west coast and blizzard conditions in the upper Midwest. Needless to say air and auto travel is more than nasty, it is near impossible.

I sat glued to my computer today watching our Sailor Rescue List go nuts trying to help young men and women who were trying to get home for the holiday. Many kids were and continue to be stuck in airports in Milwaukee, Denver, Seattle and even San Diego! The moms are worried sick, but the kids are frustrated. They just want to get home and instead they are spending days of their leave time sitting in airports.

Navy Moms have come to the rescue in several instances. Just watching the forum's comments coming in was like watching an active game of ... what? I don't know, but my head was spinning. These women swung into gear like a special ops unit! It is amazing to me that a complete stranger would leave their home in crazy inclimate weather to pick up a kid, take him/her home, feed him and give him a place to stay until they take him back to the airport when the planes finally decide they can fly. I even saw an instance where a mom was going to call the restaurant and give her own credit card number so another mom's kid could eat! I guess it isn't so amazing, because all I could think of was how I wish I could be one of the moms driving to pick up a Sailor in need. And how grateful I would be if someone helped Jeff if he were in trouble. Its comforting to know that someone would!

This is what Christmas is about. Its giving of oneself unselfishly and unconditionally. Just like Jesus did for us...the true meaning of Christmas...Christ...these women are behaving in a Christ-like manner and it blesses me to be part of it!

Quilting tip of the day!
Giving a quilt for a gift this year? My recommendation is to wash the quilt before giving it away. It makes it nice and soft and ready to use. Also some of those sneaky threads you thought you got all trimmed off tend to show up and you can get em! Also enclose a note card with washing instructions. I always tell my gift recipients that the quilt is intended to be used and then how easy it is to wash and dry!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Special Tribute to a Fallen Sailor

Navy Petty Officer Mike Monsoor - A True American Hero

Photobucket

Navy Petty Officer Mike Monsoor - A True American Hero

Mr. Michael Monsoor, a Navy EOD Technician PO2 (EOD2)(Explosive Ordnance Disposal), was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor posthumously for jumping on a grenade in Iraq. Michael Monsoor gave his life to save his fellow SEAL's.

During Michaels funeral which was held in San Diego, SEAL's were lined up on both sides of the pallbearers route forming a column of two's with the coffin moving up the center to his final resting place at Ft. Rosecrans National Cemetery. As his coffin was being moved from the hearse to the grave site, each SEAL, having removed his Gold Trident from his uniform, slapped it down embedding their Trident into the wooden coffin.

Those slaps we're told were audible from across the cemetery. When the coffin arrived grave side, it looked as though it had a Gold inlay from all the Tridents pinned into it. No greater sacrifice can one give, than their own life for another. Michael, You exemplify the word HERO.

WE at SteelAnchor Agree with the statement "This should be front-page news instead of ALL the crap we see and hear every day on Radio and TV."

Since the media won't make this news, WE choose to aid in making this NEWS by forwarding it on and posting it here. We're not here to be popular, were here to do the right thing!

Michael, you and your family will forever be in our prayers. Rest Well our Brother.

Please everyone reading this, remember Michael and his family in your prayers this Christmas. Also, please remember to light a Blue Candle on Christmas if you have or know of a Sailor who won't be home for the Holidays. Please let them know you care.

Special Thanks to NavyforMoms.com and NavyforDads.com for starting this amazing effort!

**I copied this from Ordy's blog on www.steelanchor.org Go there! Check them out...cool group of AO's! Go Navy!


Friday, December 19, 2008

New Blinds....


When we moved in nearly six years ago the blinds in the house were 1940s dark green and ghastly! I never got them replaced after I ripped them off the window for their ugliness! So for nearly six years my main floor has been shade-less. I finally ordered some to fit all my main floor windows and I love them! They were installed yesterday. Do you like them? If you live in my area, contact Interior Touch Inc (Cathy) 712-243-5435. You will get a great deal and wonderful service.



QUILTING TIP OF THE DAY
To prewash fabric or not to prewash fabric? THAT is the question. There are several points of view on this subject and this would be a personal decision for the quilt-maker. For me? I am not a prewasher. I like the extra sizing on the purchased fabric and find it easier to cut. A huge plus is that I save time washing and pressing. There are some fabrics that I will test for color fastness (is fastness a word?), like reds and some blues...I take a small snippet of fabric and put it in a bit of boiling water then squeeze it out in a paper towel, to see if any color "runs". If it does, I wash it all. Another reason to prewash is that any shrinkage in the fabrics will occur prior to making the quilt. Again, I personally like the shrinking to take place after the quilt is finished. The "puckers" are very quilt-y to me! If you are a new quilter, my suggestion would be to make your decision and then stick to it. Either wash and iron all your fabric before cutting, or leave the washing til after the quilt is made. Be consistent to avoid confusion and uneven shrinking! Happy Quilting!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Corliss's Corner Block Lap Quilt

My sweet little "Corliss's Corner" Quilt!

Several weeks ago, I told about the "split nine patch" block I was working on...see blog on November 14, 2008. Here is a finished product. We are calling it "Corliss's Corners, since our good friend Corliss shared the idea with us... I set this one with alternate "reads as solid" blocks, so it went even quicker than I expected. This is a lap quilt, so the size is small, but not as small as a crib size. Just right for the couch! I love it! Fun to quilt and fun to sit beneath! I caught this shot just before Ricky landed on it! If you click on the bottom pic you will see him on the upper left hand corner, heading for the center of the quilt for a quick nap! If you need a quick quilt, this is the one!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Blue Candle Lighting...


As most of you know I belong to an Internet group called Navyformoms.com These ladies have become fast friends and a great source of support. This Christmas, many of our sons and daughters will not be home for Christmas. Also for many of us, it will be the first Christmas without them at the table... One of the moms, decided it would be fun to light a blue candle for our Sailors, and burn it during the season to let everyone know that even tho that Sailor is not physically there, they are remembered. I thought it was a great idea! I remembered that I have a trio set of votives that I bought over a year ago and they are star shaped holders with a red, white and blue votive. Perfect! So this is a picture of my candles that will be lit for my Sailor and for all those sailors and soldiers that cant be home this year. I want them to know that I love them and I am so proud and happy that they are sacrificing for my safety. And I want Jeff to know that even tho he is not here, I love and miss him and he isn't forgotten...Ricky is gonna burn his nose!

According the the Internet "count" on this, nearly 150 moms have already responded positively to the idea and will be burning candles. Not only Navy moms, but other friends and families are doing the same. If you would like to join us, please do! And if you do, let me know, so I can let our group know there are others out there with candles burning! We would also like to know the city and state in which the candle is burning.

Quilting Tip of the Day!
Cutting a LOT of squares the same size??? Mark your ruler at the exact spot with a piece of quilters tape (1/4" masking) or even with a post it note. This will make you job go faster and eliminate mistakes... Happy Quilting!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

New Shirts, New Kitty, New Plans!

ARE YOU A MEMBER OF THE BAND???

MY BOO KITTY

Anyone ever involved in Military life knows that nothing is set in stone! Plans for Brian's homecoming have changed more times than you change a newborn's diaper! It is so frustrating to all of us. I'm sure most frustrated is Brian himself and his wife and kids. They just want their hubby and daddy home. As it is turning out, it looks like he wont be here until sometime on Saturday afternoon. Again, our travel plans are on hold. If he indeed comes on Saturday, I wont be going. I have to be in Walnut for a Community Club event on Sunday by noon. Larry hopefully will still be able to go...again, should we find his arrival plans change, our plans will change. Hurry up and wait! I'm not good at that.

The top picture is a shot of the GW shirts I had designed at a nice print shop in Atlantic. Aren't they cool? I have a huge box of shirts to take to the post office this morning. These shirts will be sent from coast to coast (Florida, Maine, Rhode Island to California and Oregon) and all points between. The mothers of the GW kids have "banded" together to support our kids and each other and these shirts commemorate that. The back says Band O' G-dub Mutha's 2009 World Tour...then listed beneath is each mom's son's last name with hometown...We sold 62 shirts! Some how this makes me feel like I'm still part of Jeff's life and makes me feel like I'm somehow closer to him. We are hoping the kids will wear them, and will be able to recognise who else has a crazy mother on the GW families discussion group. They were designed to look like band tour shirts...I think Gene did an awesome job!

The 2nd picture is my little "Boo"...he was on the back steps this morning waiting for food. He is one of the kittens who were hanging around when they were really little, several months ago. I recognise that sweet little face! I'm sure he didn't feel welcome while Toby was here, but now...well, now he can be my porch kitty. He is beautiful...Nearly all black, a white spot way low on his belly. I saw it this morning as he stretched and rolled around a little for me...yes, I'm sure he is a boy. I will give him some time to get used to being around here, then I will try to get him fixed so he doesn't become the new King of Walnut! I sure miss Toby, but I guess God knows I need an outdoor kitty to take care of. So, welcome to my home, Boo-kitty!



Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Going...

Going to be leaving early tomorrow morning for Ks to welcome home our oldest son from Iraq. Praise God he made it thru 15 months in that hole....we are so excited to see him. I wont be back to post until either Sunday or Monday. I will miss you all!

The "Christ"mas Bell

THE BELL
I KNOW WHO I AM
I am God's child. (John 1:12)
I am Christ's friend. (John 15:15)
I am united with the Lord. (1 Cor. 6:17)
I am bought with a price. (1 Cor 6:19-20)
I am a saint (set apart for God). (Eph. 1:1)
I am a personal witness of Christ. (Acts 1:8)
I am the salt & light of the earth. (Matt 5:13-14)
I am a member of the body of Christ. (1 Cor 12:27)
I am free forever from condemnation. ( Rom. 8: 1-2)
I am a citizen of Heaven. I am significant. (Phil 3:20)
I am free from any charge against me. (Rom. 8:31 -34)
I am a minister of reconciliation for God. (2 Cor 5:17-21)
I have access to God through the Holy Spirit. (Eph. 2:18)
I am seated with Christ in the heavenly realms. (Eph. 2:6)
I cannot be separated from the love of God. (Rom 8:35-39)
I am established, anointed, sealed by God. (2 Cor 1:21-22)
I am assured all things work together for good. (Rom. 8:28)
I have been chosen and appointed to bear fruit. (John 15:16)
I may approach God with freedom and confidence. (Eph. 3: 12)
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Phil. 4:13)
I am the branch of the true vine, a channel of His life. (John 15: 1-5)
I am God's temple (1 Cor. 3: 16). I am complete in Christ. (Col. 2: 10)
I am hidden with Christ in God (Col. 3:3).. I have been justified. (Romans 5:1)
I am God's co-worker (1 Cor. 3:9; 2 Cor 6:1). I am God's workmanship. (Eph. 2:10)
I am confident that the good works God has begun in me will be perfected. (Phil. 1:5)
I have been redeemed and forgiven. ( Col 1:14). I have been adopted as God's child. (Eph 1:5)
I belong to God.
Do you know
Who you are?

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Getting Ready for Christmas!


Decking the Halls!
This is my Christmas Tree!.....last year! I havent taken one of the tree yet, but wanted to decorate my blog page with a holiday pic, so here is last year's version. Last year, I was excited that Jeff would be traveling back home from Norfolk, Va and the whole fam was going to be together here in Walnut. This year will be different. I actually had a hard time getting out the decorations. I had even decided not to up up a tree, but Larry and the kids convinced me that I should. Everyone will be here the Saturday after Christmas Day, all except Jeff. I am looking forward to that day. We are doing things differently this year...I feel different this year. With my Dad gone and Jeff not in the states, it doesnt feel right to do things the same as always. So, we released the kids to do their own thing on Christmas eve and Christmas Day and then come spend the weekend or part of the weekend with us. We wont have the massive chaotic package opening here. We will take all the gifts to the kids' families prior to Christmas and they will open them with their other Christmas gifts. What will we do on Christmas Day? Im looking forward to a quiet day. Im going to sit in front of old movies and hand sew on my english paper pieced mosaic quilt....and think of Christmases Past and Future....maybe actually focus on the true meaning of Christmas. Chirst's birth....and the reason He came...for me and for you! Yes, this will be a different Christmas, but some things never change...the baby will always be in the manger and the Star will always guide the way!

Quilting Tip of the Day
So you decided to do a crazy scrap quilt, but you realize you dont have enough fabric or variety of fabrics:
  • Organize a fabric swap! Swapping 5" square would really spruce up your stash!
  • Like to make flying geese units or four patches??? how about swapping a stack of those?
  • Swap whole blocks or dig out some "orphan" blocks to see if someone wants to trade...
  • When traveling, always visit the fabric, quilt shops. Pick up a fat quarter as a souvenir!
Happy Quilting....and next, we will go on to something else! If you make a scrap quilt, I would love to see it....Send me a pic!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Kadens gift...


Kaden's Christmas Gift!
So, here it is! Kaden's Christmas gift for this year. A super hero quilt...starring Superman, Spiderman and Batman. How fun this was to make....I found the pattern in an old magazine I had. Their pattern focused on lighthouses... The hardest part was making the half square triangles go all the same direction on every block. Dyslexia has its draw-backs...I only tried for so long and then thought, who cares??? The best part is that this is a gift he has asked for. If you click on the pic you will see that I added a little applique on the borders...the gray bars are supposed to be city scape...so you will see the heroes sitting on the building tops or flying in the night sky....I think he is going to love it! Ricky does!

Quilting tip of the day...
Back to our scrap quilting lesson:
  • Be sure to sprinkle strong, bright colors or raucous (what does that mean?) prints across the quilt.
  • As you cut patches from each fabric, evenly parcel them out into boxes for each quilt quarter, row or other division. Then construct your quilt in sections, drawing patches from the appropriate box. (ok, this seems way to organized for me, but it would be a good idea to incorporate in my crazy lifestyle!)
  • OR sew all blocks and then arrange them before you join the rows (this would be me!).
  • Place patches or blocks on a vertical design wall and if possible view from a distance.
Happy Quilting!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

My Alley Cat...



The "house cat" watches the "alley cat"

Toby

This is my Toby, my "Alley Cat". Several weeks back I read an old Golden Book to my grandchildren call the Four Kittens. Very cute story, about a litter of kittens who were born in a barn and the mama helped them figure out what kind of cat each was. Each one ended up differently: one a farm cat, one a ship's cat, one house cat, and one an alley cat. We had such fun with the story. They knew my 3 kittys were house cats, and they got to meet my "alley cat" Toby.

I don't know how Toby got to be living on the streets of Walnut, all I know is that one crisp fall evening in 2003, he was sitting on my back steps, looking very hungry. He was more than shy, he was feral and in the five years that followed, Toby came to my house for a bowl of food and warm milk nearly every day...sometimes twice! I touched him once. It took him by surprise and he jutted off. Not too far off though and he did come right back. Winters were hard, for me at least. I tried rigging up different "beds" for him. One was a old wicker table, turned on its side and wrapped in a blanket. I put it on the most protected side of my porch, but he didn't use it. Lately I have had a large plastic basin in the same corner of the porch. Its all padded with batting and blankets. Someone has been sleeping there, not sure if it's Toby or not. I took to sweeping any snow, sleet or ice off the steps before feeding him. I would warm a tea towel before laying it on the step, so his little feet would at least have a warm dry place to rest while eating. But being a true Alley Cat, he would most normally stand to the side of the towel, feet in the snow. I'm pretty sure the winters were worse on me than on Tobs....he most likely had a warm, protected place all his own somewhere.

I tried hard to "tame" him. I would sit on the back steps and talk softly to him, but he would just sit and watch me, until I went into the house. In five years the closest I could get to him was about a foot, but if I tried to reach out, he would leave.

When several of us cat lovers decided to form a small community effort to spay, neuter and release our ever growing population of feral and stray cats in town, Toby seemed to be the perfect first choice. So, yesterday after a good breakfast of warm milk and beef stew scraps, off I took him for his neutering appointment.

Maybe he was much older than we imagined, maybe he was sick with something else, maybe he had an aneurysm or a stroke, but Toby didn't come out of the surgery. We lost him.

How can a kitty you have never held, one that has never curled up by your feet, one who has never asked you for a thing, steal such a big part of your heart?

Maybe he was spared from a worse death. Maybe I shouldn't have taken him in...maybe...maybe...maybe...

The fact is, I miss my Toby. Ive always loved cats, but with the B&B we thought a cat wouldn't be a good idea, so Toby filled that void for me. I could take care of him and since he wouldn't come in if I asked him, he wasn't a threat to the B&B. Also we had dogs! Then when the dogs were gone, Toby filled the void of not having pets in the house. With the addition of Lucy, Ricky and Possum, Toby was still my first thought each morning....get up - go downstairs- warm milk and feed Toby. He would be there 19 days out of 20 and if he didn't come, I would worry.

God's word says "Even the sparrow has found a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may have her young-- a place near your altar, O LORD Almighty, my King and my God." So, it's my prayer today that my Little Alley Cat Toby, has found a place to nest, a place near my Lord, my King, my God...Rest peacefully Toby, be warm...I love you!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Go Navy!


Now this will be a game! I am quilting on my machine today, so my blog juices are just not running....so Im sort of copping out. Sorry!

Quilting Tip of the day!....back to our scrap quilts.....
You could always go crazy with your scrap quilts...
  • Loosen up....a scrap quilt can be your chance to go wild with color and express yourself with reckless abandon.
  • Toss patches into a bag, pull them out and sew them together without regard to their neighbors.
  • Or choose compatible colors for next door neighbors without worrying about offending those farther down the block.
  • Instead of trying to coordinate scraps for a whole quilt, pick a few fabrics for each block, featuring a new group of colors in each one.. Happy Quilting!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Who Says Boys Cant Twirl???

Check out the video at the bottom of this page...so proud of our military...This Saturday is the Army/Navy game....go Navy!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

My $10 Scrap Quilt


As promised yesterday, here is a picture of my little quilt I bought for $10 at an antique sale. The guy had been using it for wrapping around furniture! I had to rescue it. I like to do that. When I find a quilt that seems ugly to a lot of people, I see the beauty and charm. I have several to share with you in the future...Sort of like cats, I would take all the stray ones in if I could. Do you see how this fun lady used blue as her focus color, but injected some green, purple and even a little black and red...all the same family, but the quilt "reads" as blue. The "surprise" on this quilt was a block done with brown and white check! This gal followed all the rules... Click on the pic for a larger view!

Quilting Tip of the Day
(back Ways to Choose and Use Scraps-Quiltmaker 9-10/01

To stay a bit in control of your scrap quilt:
  • Consider your flamboyancy quotient. You may prefer to keep your color choices controlled.
  • Restrain your use of scraps by using a common color scheme thruout an entire quilt.
  • Limiting the colors in a quilt doesn't mean you have to limit the number of fabrics you use: a red and white quilt could have 100 red prints and 100 white prints.
  • Use a common background to unify a myriad of prints.
  • Calm scrappy blocks by using a simple setting.
  • Or add a large dose of a neutral color.
  • Choose a variety of colors for the blocks, keeping consistent value placement to determine design structure (which sounds like something you would have learned in design class, which I know nothing about).
See? I think if you read back over these from my previous posts, you will see that this little bear paw quilt fits the bill with these rules...maybe that's why I was so drawn to it.
Happy Quilting!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Ya Gotta Love the Military!


These pictures are of our oldest son, Brian at his recent promotion....finally! We are so proud of him. He has been serving the last 15 months in Iraq and we are looking forward to his return in just a little over a week. We got these pics this morning with the message....

"Lots of rumors bout when we are supposed to arrive, most are expecting us to arrive a day or so later than originally expected but nothing is set in stone yet. sooooo?"

Sooooo? That mean....typical for the Army, or any other branch of the service. Man, I'm going to be praying that he gets home as expected and if not that he will know ahead of time...I know we are all itching to see him and I know he is way more ready to be home. We are so grateful for God for keeping him safe and we are hoping there wont be a second tour in the future.

One of the first things we learn as military families are to be flexable. I hate being flexable!

Quilting Tip of the Day
Back to our Ways to Choose and Use Scraps (from Quiltmaker, 9-10/01)
We've talked previously about Color Considerations and pondering prints...now on to
GETTING STARTED:
  • Begin with a few prints you know you will want in your quilt and let your pallette grow from there.
  • When adding more prints, think "blend" instead of "match". Many intriguing scrap quilts contain fabrics that arent closely coordinated- some even clash
  • Just for fun...thow in some "beasts" to contrast with the beauties
  • Rather than scrutinizing each print, evaluate the overall effect of many in combination.
Case in point.. a couple years back,I purchased the cutest bear paw quilt at an antique show. I will try to get a pic and post it tomorrow...the quilt was being used for packing! There was just something about the colors that drew me in...It looks like its from the 30's maybe 40's and it is one of my favorite wraps for reading! Cost? $10! Also take a look at my sister, Kris's quilts. Start at her blog at www.thescrappyquilter.blogspot.com(see my sideboard "blogs Im following") and then visit her stores from there... I have always admired her scrap quilts. She, to me is the scrap quilt queen!


Saturday, November 29, 2008

Poor Jeff..all alone in Japan!



I love these pictures. Jeff looks like he is having a blast! He sounds so good...even tho I havent heard his voice since Guam, I can tell he is upbeat and happy. Looks like they are doing fun things and experiencing Japan. The girl is Yuki. She hangs with the guys a lot and Jeff says she is really nice. Good to have a native to help with the translation!

I will be spending the day putting up the tree and going thru some of Jeffs things that he wants me to ship to him. Fun!

Friday, November 28, 2008

It's Over!

Faith, Our Little Thanksgiving Chef!

Well, the turkey was stuffed yesterday and now we are! Wow...what a great day. Lots of laughter and fun, card games and "keep -a-way". Now back home to peace and quiet and a sore neck! Oh well, I guess I just cant be playing games with a six year old and two adult men any more.... We missed Jeff, but I have a feeling he had a great time. Word had it that he was going to be snowboarding this weekend...Wanted to send the following video to Jeff, but the file was too big for my email...so this is the only place I could figure out how to download it for him to see...



Happy Thanksgiving to our Jeff!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

Me and Jeff at Graduation....
Brian's Recent Promotion!

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

This morning I am reflecting of all I have to be thankful for. My list is long and includes all the regular stuff; I have a wonderful husband, four great kids, 7 delightful grandchildren 3 warm kitties (and a partridge in a pear tree...o no..that would be a stray cat in the backyard), But at the forefront of my mind today are my two sons in the military, one in the Navy, stationed in Japan and very far away from home. The other in the Army, serving in Iraq, also very far from home, but due to come home in two weeks. I am truly thankful that God has been and is protecting my sons as they serve our country...

It would be easy to sit at home and worry and fret about their well-being, but instead a group of women including myself have gathered together to make a pile of quilts for a worthy cause. I still fret and worry sometime, but this sure helps!

I was grateful on Tuesday, to be the person that got to box up five of our " quilts of Valor" and ship them off to the Brooks Army Medical Hospital in San Antonio Texas. I was thankful that I could write cards and notes to each of the wounded soldiers that would receive these gifts. I really had a sense of pride, not only in the men and women that have sacrificed so much to serve the USA, but pride in the women I know that are willing to give up their time and talents to participate in this blessing to others. A special thank you to you NVQG members that have helped make quilts and a special thank you to Kathy C., Pam W. and Rosie J. from Omaha! Not only are our members actively doing this, but some honorary friends of NVQG, like Kathy, Pam, Rosie and Kandi! I was happy to know and grateful to a woman named Suzanne on the other end in San Antonio, who receives the quilts and distributes them to our wounded warriors.

We are a fortunate and rich country. Even though we are in a recession, and our economy is fragile, we have so much! So far, I have seen no bread lines, we are not receiving ration cards, no hint of depression as I look at the parking lots of the mall and the restaurants. We are blessed beyond measure. Much because of the valiant efforts of our military. I want to thank every soldier, sailor and marine that is serving or has ever served...so that I can have pumpkin pie and turkey (in that order, if I want!). My life is so full and so blessed. Yes, I miss my sons and I pray that they will be safe and that they will come home, but the big picture is one of safety and security on the home front because of them and other men and women like them... Today I give thanks to Jeff and Brian and to God for giving them to me!

I hope that this Thanksgiving you will find many things to be thankful for...and if you find you cannot be thankful for what you have, be thankful for what you DON'T have...think about it..

Quilting Tip of the Day!

Today just rest in your thankfulness! We are so fortunate to have quilt shops and fabric stores so available to us. We can shop around and hold out long enough to find that special fabric or that exact color...There are many places that have extremely limited choices...I was in Turkey and wanted to find some cotton to bring home as a gift to my sewing friends and there was none to be found. Same way in France...very limited...we are spoiled Americans...and today, I am grateful to be me, sitting among my stash, wondering what to use next!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

A Little Help from my Friend!



Neck is feeling better enough that I was able to quilt a small quilt for a friend. Hurrah, I think Im finally on the mend. This has been a slow process, but each day seems a little better...still sore, and Im being very careful, but each day God is showing me His healing power.

I love Possum. She is a fat round kitty...has been since day one...here she is, "helping" me to sew on my sewing machine when she was just a little bit of a thing. And here she is now...continuing to help me with my quilting machine... She is so good, she loves to just sit there and watch...she doesnt go after the cord or try to get on the quilt while Im working on it...Such a doll baby.

Quilting tip of the day...
Cat Hair is good extra insulation for your quilt....

Another Good day!

Ok so the new header picture is NOT the GW...It is actually the Kitty Hawk from last Christmas, but who can tell in the dark??...I dont think they have decorated the G-dub yet...but if the they do and I get a photo...I will be posting it! Aint it purdy???

Monday was a good day...I finally used Jeff's Christmas gift to me. It was a near all day at the spa gift certificate...I had a massage, facial, manicure and pedicure. What a blessing to be pampered like that. The massage therapist (cant spell masuse...see?) was awesome....he found the bad parts of my neck and worked on them furiously....yikes...it hurt so good!

I then spent the evening with my sewing buddies, the Bag Ladies...and spent the night with my friend Kandi. All in all a good day...

Oh! and gas is down to $1.59 in Omaha!

Quilting Tip of the day!!!
We all love when prices go down. Take advantage of fabric sales...Always check the sale rack at the fabric shop...sometime you can get hard to beat prices...remember, it takes a lot of fabric to back a quilt...go ahead and buy the rest of the bolt for that! Always nice to be able to "shop" for backing right in your own sewing room...

Sunday, November 23, 2008

A good day!


Hey...just a good good day! Slept in til 8am, sat around in my pjs all day...really...still in them and its nearly 5! I finished quilting a friend's quilt, and read a couple of magazines Ive been wanting to peruse...and am now watching Red Neck Weddings...I guess you can tell I dont want to do much challenging today. HA!

Jeff in Tokyo!!Jeff is in port finally and I have gotten to talk with him on IM chat. Instant blood pressure lowering activity. I am so happy to hear that his new barracks is a 2-man room, with fridge and microwave. He has free internet service, so we will be able to keep in touch alot. We are working on a phone system. Skype maybe, but there is a new thing called Magic Jack...think we are going to do that too.

No Quilting tip today...Im relaxing and that would tax my brains.. come back! Happy quilting!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Saturday...yikes Im busy!

Hello to my faithful few readers! And if you faithfully read this and I dont know it, become a follower, so I dont think Im talking to the wall!

Just a note to say this day has been busy busy! I started the day with a nice long "chat" with my Sailor! He is finally on land and in a barracks room. It sounds really nice, with a full sized fridge, microwave, his own desk and lots more room than he is used to. Even maid service! Its about time he felt pampered! We are going to get skype set up and web cams so we can talk.

My friend Stephanie came over and we had a fun lesson on how to apply borders to our quilts...thus the tip of the day below...the only hard part was, that we had to unsew all her borders and reapply them so they would lay flat...not fun, but now she knows and she will have nice borders from here on out!

We are going to supper with friends tonight at our favorite mexican place in Harlan. Yum! I found a free online website to learn spanish so i might be trying some of my words out soon. Its always so embarrassing!

Quilt Tip of the Day!
It's hip to be square!!!

When we finally finish a quilt top, it is so tempting to cut a long strip of fabric and sew it to the side of the quilt top and lope off the ends and call them good. Problem is, that quilt tops, no matter how hard you try are most likely not square....and you end up with a quilt top that is lopesided and has wavy borders, most nasty to quilt...and not so good looking either...

The proper way to apply borders is:
  • lay the quilt top down on the floor
  • measure down the middle of the quilt lengthwise...whatever this measurement is, cut two of your border strips to match.
  • Now pin the borders to the lengthwise sides of the quilts. You will most likely find that the border and the quilt size do not match...ease the quilt top to match the size of the cut border...make it fit! Sew on and press.
  • Now lay the top on the floor again and measure accross the middle widthwise. Cut two more border strips this measurement.
  • Pin as you did the other two borders, make them fit...and sew on... Now you have forced your quilt into square...
Repeat this process for all borders you add to the quilt. It takes alittle more time, but you will be happy with the results... Happy quilting!


Thursday, November 20, 2008

Navy MOM video

I just posted a really coll video of the GW at the bottom of this page...Check it out.. so cool. One of the mom's son, matt did it...so proud of these kids!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


I cant believe how fast time is going by. I have been busy, but it seems I'm getting nothing done. I haven't felt particularly "blog inspired" and that makes me sad. I wanted to write everyday, but it seems my life is simply not that interesting.

I have been busy with Navy for MOMs online. It's a great site that provides support and encouragement for moms, like me who have a son or daughter in the Navy. The one group I love the most is "USS George Washington Families". Myself and about 70 other mothers (some wives and girlfriends) share our heart and our feelings with one another and somehow we don't feel quite so crazy.

We are immersing ourselves in "projects". We have an ornament exchange coming up. I will get a name of one of the moms and I will send her a special Christmas ornament and she will send me one. I spent a little time today searching online and found a pewter ornament at the Navy Museum Gift Shop in DC. It is the Lone Sailor..pictured here...a memorial monument outside the museum. Very interesting story; I just spent the last hour trying to copy and paste the story, but I keep getting some dumb error message about key tags...so if you are interested, go to http://www.kittytours.org/thatman2/search.asp?subject=32 and http://www.visitingdc.com/washington-dc/lone-sailor-statue.htm and check it out for yourself!

So, because it took me FOREVER to get this much done...I will NOT be posting a quilting tip today....geez!

Monday, November 17, 2008

From 140 mph to zero in no time flat!

Photo 1 of 2

USS George Washington deck crew work near a C-2 Greyhound, a twin-engined cargo plane, on which AP reporter Eric Talmadge flew on the deck of the USS George Washington shortly after his arrival in the western Pacific Monday, Oct. 20, 2008. (AP Photo/Eric Talmadge)


Hope you will indulge me again as I brag about my Sailor! The flight this reporter talks about is the same flight Jeff took on and off the GW when he came home for my father's funeral in February. According to Jeff an avid discription! Not all Sailor's get to experience this, so it may be a once in a lifetime thrill!

From 140 mph to zero in no time flat

ABOARD THE USS GEORGE WASHINGTON (AP) — I don't fear flying. But this is more like a controlled crash.

I'm forced all the way into my seat in the cramped passenger compartment as the cargo plane goes into a sharp descending turn, tripling the force of gravity.

To keep me from bouncing off the ceiling, I have a seat belt across my lap, two more straps over my shoulders and am wearing a "float coat" in case we hit water.

Suddenly, we plunge.

All the blood rushes out of my head. Gravity yanks at my body, which wants to be about 300 feet higher and farther forward. Everything goes blank for a split second.

From 140 mph to zero in two seconds. Welcome aboard the USS George Washington.

Like most visitors, I came in on a C-2 Greyhound, the twin-engined lifeline for the 5,000-plus sailors and air crew aboard the aircraft carrier, now on its maiden voyage in the Pacific. The C-2 primarily flies in spare parts, supplies, mail and personnel who, for one reason or another, urgently need to get on or off the ship.

The secret to survival is called "catching a wire" — a series of steel cables, one of which will snag a hook on the plane as it lands and prevent it from shooting into the water.

When things get busy, there will be 100 or more landings and takeoffs a day, often just a minute or so apart.

The fighters — the FA-18 Hornets and Superhornets and EA-6b Prowlers — are the most impressive to watch. They roar out of the sky like thunderbolts and then gun their jets even as the wires pull them to a halt. It's a safety measure — if they fail to "take the trap," or if the cable snaps, they need the power to take off again.

Carrier landings, especially at night, never get routine for the pilots.

Lt. Robert Stochel, of Crown Point, Ind., flies the E-2c Hawkeye, an early-warning and control system for the fighters. The prop plane comes in heavy and slow, carrying a large radar disk on its back.

Stochel said pilots hate — and love — taking the trap.

"It's hard to explain a night trap on a carrier, the sinking feeling your stomach," he said. "The last 20 seconds of flight you really don't want to do this. It's a $100 million aircraft and a $5 billion ship and I have to put it through the equivalent of a 16-inch hole for the No. 3 wire I'm trying to catch."

To the incoming pilot, the deck is small, crowded and moving away. At night, it's just an inky spot in a black sea. And when you hit the 320-foot landing area of the deck, you feel it.

Come in too high and you get a second chance — and a razzing from your fellow pilots. Too low, and it's catastrophe.

"When I first caught a wire, my legs were shaking and I was all nervous," said Lt. Cody Dowd, of Bartlesville, Okla.,

"But the more you do it, the more fun it gets, the more confidence you have," he said. "It's unique to naval aviation, and we all enjoy it. That's why we're out here."


"Quilt Tip of the Day"

This is the time of year we begin thinking about "New Year's Resolutions" One of mine usually is, "Im going to use up some of my fabric and NOT buy any new. That idea lasts for short time, until I find a good fabric sale and then I'm "off the wagon". But for the next few days we are going talk about some ways to choose and use scraps to make scrap quilts...I found this article in a very old Quilt maker magazine by Sherri Bain Driver...thanks Sherri!

" One quiltmaker's scraps are another's treasures. We no longer need to make scrap quilts, but we choose to make them for reasons other than thrift- to play with colors, experiement with self-espression, to make a quilt more interesting or preserve memories.

Color considerations:

  • Choose fabrics according to value. Value, (the darkness or lightness of a color) is more important than the color itself.
  • Determine the "value" of each fabric, remembering that value is relative; a fabric may look dark in one grouping and medium or light in another.
  • Add a bit of surprise by substitutuing just a few medium valued fabrics for darks and or lights.
  • Borrow a color scheme from a favorite photo, painting, dish, or multicolored fabric. To retain the flavor of the source object, use colors in the same proportions...go look at some of your china...this would be fund
  • Stretch your interpretation of each color- "reds" could range from rusty browns throu scarlets to reddish purples; 'shites" might include pastels in every hue and even light tans or grays.
Happy Quilting...next time..."Pondering Prints....come back!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Big Dog on the Block....



These pics are hot off the internet....

Saw this article on the net today and thought I would share it with you. Its long, but if you have some time...it will help you understand what an awesome thing the USS GeorgeWashington is. I am so proud my son is part of this team. PS I heard from him today and he sounds really really good!

Big dog on the block: US ship packs a global punch

ABOARD THE USS GEORGE WASHINGTON (AP) — Rear Adm. Rick Wren's office is near the flight deck, above the two nuclear reactors. When the mood strikes, he can take a short walk to the bridge and look out at his new neighborhood, though most of the time that's just blue water from horizon to horizon.

Wren has a unique command.

No country in the world has anything like the USS George Washington. It is a floating air base with 67 aircraft ready to fly; it's a city unto itself, with a population of around 5,000; and it's an armory carrying about 4 million pounds of bombs.

It is, Wren likes to say, the big dog on the block.

And a big part of being the big dog is being seen.

Just two weeks into its maiden voyage in the Pacific, the GW has been to Japan, which is its new home port, South Korea and Guam. It will be at sea probably about half the year, supplied by incoming cargo planes and desalinating its own water.

Down in the hangar bay, the scuttlebutt among the sailors is that a Chinese sub is out there somewhere chasing the carrier and its battle group — a pair of cruisers, plus a sub and a destroyer, which Wren also commands.

Wren doesn't doubt for a minute that he is being watched. That is, after all, part of the game.

But he is coy when it comes to specifics.

"Most of what I do is classified," he said.

Especially when it comes to the other big dog out there — China.

___

"Enemy" and even "threat" are words officers aboard the George Washington avoid.

"China" is another.

Wren, the most senior officer aboard, is no exception regarding the first two. But he is quick to talk about China and the challenges it poses.

"This is where the submarines that we look for live and operate," Wren said. "I look for, and count the best I can, Chinese submarines twice a day."

Wren said that when the aircraft carrier is embarked, one of its primary missions is to "sanitize" the seas around it. That means using active and passive sonar, helicopters and a whole slew of secret gadgetry to inspect a large chunk of the surrounding waters for Chinese submarine activity.

"They are tough to hunt," he said.

Encounters rarely are made public. But two years ago, off Okinawa and far from Chinese waters, a Chinese submarine came within torpedo range of the USS Kitty Hawk — the George Washington's predecessor in the Pacific Ocean.

The following year, the Kitty Hawk was at the last minute denied a port call in Hong Kong, and China has never offered an explanation.

Occurring while the Chinese military, and particularly its submarine capabilities, are rapidly modernizing, these and other incidents have left many U.S. military planners concerned.

Traditionally, much of the U.S. focus has been on China's hostility toward Taiwan, which it sees as a secessionist province. As the George Washington began its Pacific cruise, Washington and Beijing were again at odds over a multibillion dollar weapons deal the U.S. had just signed with Taipei.

But Wren said China increasingly presents a broader strategic rivalry.

"Our presence, we believe, adds to the stability and security of the Pacific theater," Wren said. "We all encourage China to become a responsible global participant. But the way they are growing their military is confusing. Why do you need a missile that can go thousands and thousands of kilometers if you are a defensive force? The total number of submarines they have, and their capabilities, sure doesn't point to a defensive or even an 'active defense force,' as they like to call it.

"To me, it points to establishing an offensive, blue-water navy."

Wren stressed, however, that "no one wants a confrontation with China."

"If we go to war, something very wrong has happened," he said. "I'm not in that business. I am in the business of being prepared."

___

Aircraft carriers are an exceptional weapon.

They cost about $5 billion apiece. Of the Navy's 12, only the George Washington is permanently deployed overseas.

The carrier is the crown jewel of the U.S. 7th Fleet, a huge armada of 60 to 70 ships, 200 to 300 aircraft and 20,000 sailors and Marines, most of whom are, like the George Washington, home based just south of Tokyo so that they can be closer to whatever missions may arise in their area of responsibility.

That is a vast expanse of the globe.

The fleet is responsible for everywhere from the international dateline to the east coast of Africa, pole to pole — in all, 52 million square miles. Within its watery realm operate ships from five of the world's largest militaries — China, Russia, India and North and South Korea.

More than half of the world's population lives within the 7th Fleet's ambit, and the region accounts for more than $435 billion in two-way trade with the United States, more than any other region of the world. Nearly all of the U.S. commerce with Asia moves by sea.

"The balance of power is always shifting, and certainly the influence that this portion of the world has compared to Europe is shifting," said Capt. Karl Thomas, the ship's executive officer. "These countries are growing at a much greater rate than some of the countries in other parts of the world, and certainly there are some — tensions may not be the best word — but frictions."

Strategists like to single out one vital sea lane and one commodity: the Strait of Malacca, and oil.

Each year, over 50,000 ships transit the strait, which is a major chokepoint for oil being transported from the Middle East to the countries in the Pacific Rim. Closure of the strait, between Singapore and Indonesia, would require nearly half of the world's ships to reroute, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, and threaten the flow of more than 15 million barrels of oil per day.

The George Washington's mere presence, Thomas says, is possibly the strongest statement the U.S. can make that it is committed to stability in the region — to keeping that oil flowing and that economy growing.

___

At the front of a ready room for fighter pilots attached to the George Washington's Carrier Air Wing 5, a photo of Mao Zedong, Communist China's founding father, is projected onto a white board above the caption, "We Stood Up."

Experts from MIT and the Naval Postgraduate School have just finished a get-to-know-the-neighborhood lecture, focusing on regional politics, and the pilots are breaking up into little groups to digest what they have learned.

If a crisis occurs, these pilots, mostly young men in their 20s, are sure to be in the thick of it.

But Capt. Michael White, the air wing commander, says that for the pilots the location of the ship — be it the western Pacific or the Gulf off Bahrain — doesn't matter that much. They are trained to fly multiple missions and are prepared to use their fighters in many conditions and theaters.

When deployed in this complicated and increasingly crowded sea, however, politics can't be completely ignored.

"Working in this area of the world, we have to be knowledgeable of the major players, their governments, their economies and their capabilities," he said.

On that last topic, he said, the George Washington speaks for itself.

An aircraft carrier is one thing the Chinese don't have, and aren't likely to acquire for quite some time, though there has been a lot of talk that they want one.

In the meantime, White has a dog analogy of his own.

"The way I see it is that there are a lot of sheep out there, and some wolves," White said. "We are the sheepdogs."

Quilting Tip of the Day...

My friend Stephanie came over the day before yesterday and she saw the little split nine patch quilt top I was working on...she was so excited to try one herself and said " Im going out right now and collecting some floral fabrics!" Oh no you're not....together we went thru my florals and she picked out a pile of some she wanted to try in her nine patches. My tip today is have fun sharing your stash. You know you will never use it all anyway, so why not give some away to a friend?


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