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! **

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 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?

Friday, November 14, 2008

Go Green!...with Chili Verde!

My Best Friend, Kathy from Florida shared a yummy recipe last week for Shrimp Bisque (see sidebar...Granny Divas). I made it Monday night and Larry and I about licked the pot clean! It was incredible!

Today I dug out a very old recipe that Ive had for ages and made it for supper. I found the recipe in the Bon Apetite Magazine 30 years ago and still have it on the same card I typed it on back then. With the fad "go green" I thought it would be fun to list it. Its fast, easy and oh so good! Let me know how you like it!

Chili Verde
  • 1lb pork shoulder, cut into 1/4" cubes
  • 2 T each of flour and shortening
  • 1 c. chopped onion
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 14 oz can of whole tomatoes
  • 4 4oz. cans of green chilis (I use mild)
  • 2 1/2tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp oregano
  • 2 cups water
Dredge pork in flour. Melt shortening in deep frying pan or dutch oven. Brown meat well. Add onion and garlic and cook til onion is soft. Add remaining ingredients, coursly chopping tomatoes and including juice. Cover and simmer for 1-2 hours. Uncover a few minutes before serving to desired consistance. Enjoy...really good with cornbread and honey...or corn chips and cheese!

Quilt Tip of the Day
I learned how to make a really fun block...You can use up fabrics youve had around or you can plan it. Basically you make a nine patch. You can make it any size you want...3" squares would be the smallest I would start with...but they can be bigger if you want. Make the center block a "popper". Make it a fabric that will "pop" in color from the rest. Once the nine patch is finished, Cut it right down the center, both ways, creating four smaller squares. You can now set these intricate looking little blocks how ever you want. They are so cute! I started one yesterday and have the top nearly completed. I started with some of the 5" squares I had cut on one of my "mindless" cutting days. I only made five nine patches, which created twenty blocks when I was done. I set them "on Point" with a neutral tone on tone alternate block and side setting triagles...I will add a small inner border and a wider outer border and have a nice couch sized quilt. I will post a pic when its done...Happy Quilting!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

For the Invisable Ones Who God Loves to See!

I Received this online from another Navy Mom. I am past the cupcakes and the Disney Channel, but I can still relate to this and at times feel a bit invisible...
Invisible Mother......

"It all began to make sense, the blank stares, the lack of response, the way one of the kids will walk into the room while I'm on the phone and ask me a question.

Inside I'm thinking, 'Can't you see I'm on the phone?' Obviously, not.

No one can see if I'm on the phone, or cooking, or sweeping the floor, or even standing on my head in the corner, because no one can see me at all.

I'm invisible. The invisible Mom. Some days I am only a pair of hands, nothing more: Can you fix this? Can you tie this? Can you open this?

Some days I'm not a pair of hands; I'm not even a human being. I'm a clock to ask, 'What time is it?' I'm a satellite guide to answer, 'What number is the Disney Channel?' I'm a car to order, 'Right around 5:30, please.'

I was certain that these were the hands that once held books and the eyes that studied history and the mind that graduated sum a cum laud - but now they had disappeared into the peanut butter, never to be seen again. She's going; she's going; she is gone!

One night, a group of us were having dinner, celebrating the return of a friend from England ..

Janice had just gotten back from a fabulous trip, and she was going on and on about the hotel she stayed in. I was sitting there, looking around at the others all put together so well. It was hard not to compare and feel sorry for myself.

I was feeling pretty pathetic, when Janice turned to me with a beautifully wrapped package, and said, 'I brought you this.'

It was a book on the great cathedrals of Europe . I wasn't exactly sure why she'd given it to me until I read her inscription:

'To Charlotte , with admiration for the greatness of what you are building when no one sees.'

In the days ahead I would read - no, devour - the book. And I would discover what would become for me, four life-changing truths, after which I could pattern my work:

No one can say who built the great cathedrals - we have no record of their names.

These builders gave their whole lives for a work they would never see finished. They made great sacrifices and expected no credit. The passion of their building was fueled by their faith that the eyes of God saw everything.

A legendary story in the book told of a rich man who came to visit the cathedral while it was being built, and he saw a workman carving a tiny bird on the inside of a beam. He was puzzled and asked the man, 'Why are you spending so much time carving that bird into a beam that will be covered by the roof? No one will ever see it.' And the workman replied, 'Because God sees.'

I closed the book, feeling the missing piece fall into place.

It was almost as if I heard God whispering to me, 'I see you, Charlotte. I see the sacrifices you make every day, even when no one around you does. No act of kindness you've done, no sequin you've sewn on, no cupcake you've baked, is too small for me to notice and smile over. You are building a great cathedral, but you can't see right now what it will become.'

At times, my invisibility feels like an affliction. But it is not a disease that is erasing my life. It is the cure for the disease of my own selfcenteredness. It is the antidote to my strong, stubborn pride.

I keep the right perspective when I see myself as a great builder. As one of the people who show up at a job that they will never see finished, to work on something that their name will never be on.

The writer of the book went so far as to say that no cathedrals could ever be built in our lifetime because t h ere are so few people willing to sacrifice to that degree.

When I really think about it, I don't want my son to tell the friend he's bringing home from college for Thanksgiving, 'My Mom gets up at 4 in the morning and bakes homemade pies, and then she hand bastes a turkey for three hours and presses all the linens for the table.' That would mean I'd built a shrine or a monument to myself. I just want him to want to come home. And then, if there is anything more to say to his friend, to add, 'you're gonna love it there.'

As mothers, we are building great cathedrals. We cannot be seen if we're doing it right. And one day, it is very possible that the world will marvel, not only at what we have built, but at the beauty that has been added to the world by the sacrifices of invisible women.

Great job, MOM!
Share this with all the Invisible Moms you know...I just did.

Hope this encourages you when the going gets tough as it sometimes does. We never know what our finished products will turn out to be because of our perseverance."

I, personally can tell you that I am having the honor to see how my children are shaping into being wonderful adults that I am proud of. Brian, a great father and husband, serving our country in the US Army, Ben also a wonderful father, husband and provider, Lauren, beautiful, inside and out, who loves her little boy as only a mother can and then of course Jeffrey, serving far away in the US Navy. I am watching my "catherals" become.

A View From The Top

This photo was taken by my friend, David. Click on the photo to get a larger view and the full effect! He is working on the wind turbines that are sprouting up all over around Walnut. He is a "checker". He goes up the towers and crawls out to check something...I'm not sure what. I think actually he should be checking to see if he has any sense! This looks horrifyingly scary! I guess there really is a job for everyone and that God gives each of us talents to do what has to be done. Being 300 feet up in the air must be like hanging out of an airplane. David and his wife, Stephanie have been staying with us since the first of October. They have occupied our little apartment area in the basement. It has been a blessing having them here. They have been the perfect renters. Hardly a peep out of them and so fun getting to know them. Today, however, they had to find new lodging. Unfortunately Stephanie has an allergy to my kitties. She didn't tell me about it, hoping that it would be OK since they would only be here until after Christmas and then would be moving on. BUT, they kicked in during the past couple days to the point that she could hardly breath. I'm sick about loosing them. I hope they will be OK in their new situation and I hope we can remain friends and still see each other.

"Quilting Tip of the Day"
Step outside your box with color....while staying in one colorway is "safe" it usually makes for a pretty drab, flat and uninteresting quilt. Add some "zing" or spark by incorporating a shot of something unexpected. My friend Pam just finished a little quilt for Quilts of Valor. It is red, white and black...BUT to add some dazzle she put in a touch of turquoise! Perfect! Happy Quilting!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Its one of those days...

It seems like Ive been saying that a lot lately. I just havent been feeling up to par. My neck has had a little set back and now I think Im coming down with a cold. So! Excuse me from my blog for a couple days til my creative juices start flowing again and I can sit at the computer for more than two minutes....Dont forget to check back, I should be up and running in a day or two!

Sunday, November 9, 2008


1. Buy a steel dumpster, paint it gray inside and out, and live in it
for six months.

2. Run all the pipes and wires in your house exposed on the walls.

3. Repaint your entire house every month.

4. Renovate your bathroom. Build a wall across the middle of the
bathtub and move the shower head to chest level. When you take
showers, make sure you turn off the water while you soap down.

5. Put lube oil in your humidifier and set it on high.

6. Once a week, blow compressed air up your chimney, making sure the
wind carries the soot onto your neighbor's house. Ignore his

7. Once a month, take all major appliances apart and then reassemble

8. Raise the thresholds and lower the headers of your front and back
doors so that you either trip or bang your head every time you pass
through them.

9. Disassemble and inspect your lawnmower every week.

10. On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, turn your water heater
temperature up to 200 degrees. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, turn the
water heater off. On Saturdays and Sundays tell your family they use
too much water during the week, so no bathing will be allowed.

11. Raise your bed to within 6 inches of the ceiling, so you can't
turn over without getting out and then getting back in.

12. Sleep on the shelf in your closet. Replace the closet door with a
curtain. Have your spouse whip open the curtain about 3 hours after
you go to sleep, shine a flashlight in your eyes, and say "Sorry,
wrong rack."

13. Make your family qualify to operate each appliance in your house
- dishwasher operator, blender technician, etc.

14. Have your neighbor come over each day at 5 am, blow a whistle so
loud Helen Keller could hear it, and shout "Reville, reville, all
hands heave out and trice up."

15. Have your mother-in-law write down everything she's going to do
the following day, then have her make you stand in your back yard at
6 am while she reads it to you.

16. Submit a request chit to your father-in-law requesting permission
to leave your house before 3 PM

17. Empty all the garbage bins in your house and sweep the driveway
three times a day, whether it needs it or not. (Now sweepers,
sweepers, man your brooms, give the ship a clean sweep down fore and
aft, empty all trashcans over the fantail.)

18. Have your neighbor collect all your mail for a month, read your
magazines, and randomly lose every 5th item before delivering it to

19. Watch no TV except for movies played in the middle of the night.
Have your family vote on which movie to watch, then show a different

20. When your children are in bed, run into their room with a
megaphone shouting that your home is under attack and ordering them
to their battle stations. (Now general quarters, general quarters,
all hands man your battle stations.)

21. Make your family menu a week ahead of time without consulting the
pantry or refrigerator.

22. Post a men u on the kitchen door informing your family that they
are having steak for dinner. Then make them wait in line for an hour.
When they finally get to the kitchen, tell them you are out of steak,
but they can have dried ham or hot dogs. Repeat daily until they
ignore the menu and just ask for hot dogs.

23. Bake a cake. Prop up one side of the pan so the cake bakes
unevenly. Spread icing real thick to level it off.

24. Get up every night around midnight and have a peanut butter and
jelly sandwich on stale bread. (midrats)

25. Set your alarm clock to go off at random during the night. At the
alarm, jump up and dress as fast as you can, making sure to button
your top shirt button and tuc k your pants into your socks. Run out
into the backyard and uncoil the garden hose.(fire drill)

26. Every week or so, throw your cat or dog in the pool and shout
"Man overboard port side!" Rate your family members on how fast they

27. Put the headphones from your stereo on your head, but don't plug
them in. Hang a paper cup around your neck on a string. Stand in
front of the stove, and speak into the paper cup "Stove manned and
ready." After an hour or so, speak into the cup again 'Stove
secured." Roll up the headphones and paper cup and stow them in a

28. Place a podium at the end of your driveway. Have your family
stand watches at the podium, rotating at 4 hour intervals. This is
best done when the weather is worst. January is a good time.

29. When there is a thunderstorm in your area, get a wobbly rocking
chair, sit in it and rock as hard as you can until you become
nauseous. Make sure to have a supply of stale cr ackers in your shirt

30. For former engineers: bring your lawn mower into the living room,
and run it all day long.

31. Make coffee using eighteen scoops of budget priced coffee grounds
per pot, and allow the pot to simmer for 5 hours before drinking.

32. Have someone under the age of ten give you a haircut with sheep

33. Sew the back pockets of your jeans on the front.

34. Every couple of weeks, dress up in your best clothes and go to
the scummiest part of town. Find the most run down, trashiest bar,
and drink beer until you are hammered. Then walk all the way home.

35. Lock yourself and your family in the house for six weeks. Tell
them that at the end of the 6th week you are going to take them to
Disney World for "liberty." At the end of the 6th week, inform them
the trip to Disney World has been cancelled because they need to get
ready for an inspection, and it will be another week before they can
leave the house .

Quilting Tip of the Day
You know you are a quilter if: You find a fabric you really like, you buy at least five yards, if you kind of like it, you buy two yards, even if you hate it you buy a fat quarter just because you never know! Me? If I really like it I buy the whole bolt...Im not kidding!

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