Monday, June 23, 2014

Dancing thru a VERY busy Spring, 2014

     I went to check my last blog & can't believe it was the end of April.  Fair warning, this will be a little lengthy with all we've done.  I left for St Louis the 29th of May, to spend time with my cousin, Sandy.  Since we're both only kids, we've been more like sisters growing up.  Sandy picked me up at the airport & took me to meet a wonderful couple & good friends of hers, Gus & Bren.  They are a gold star family, having lost a son in a bombing in Afghanistan.  We had a lot in common & I was honored to be able to meet them & become friends.
     Sandy's backyard had a beautiful Redbud tree blooming.  I forgot how beautiful they are.

     Sandy was very patient with me , as we explored quilt stores in the area.  We also went to her & Bill's house at Lake of the Ozarks for a couple days.   The dogwoods there were exquisite.  The weather was too cool to go out on the lake, but we enjoyed relaxing
     On our way back, we stopped at a quilt shop in Jefferson City.  It was a great shop & Sandy caught the bug, buying a pattern & some fat quarters to try her first quilt.  She has great style & color sense, so I'm sure she'll do well, if she's able to make time for quilting in her busy schedule.
     Sandy & I had a great visit and capped it off, picking up Riki on Sat afternoon.  We enjoyed dinner out with Bill's daughter's family.  We topped it off by going to Ted Drew's for frozen custard.  We were amazed at the crowds.  There were about 10-15 lines & each one had about 10 people in it.  There were barricades along the sidewalks to keep the lines from going into the street.  We learned that this place has quite a reputation! I had a Hawaiian Concrete (another word for a very thick shake).
      The next day Sandy took Riki & I to the hotel in Clayton, another St. Louis suberb.  As with every National Fallen Firefighter Foundation event I've attended, firefighters from local departments were there to assist us with luggage & getting checked in.  This was a survivors conference, specifically for adult, immediate family survivors.  We attended a variety of workshops.  One very interesting, was on making Mandelas.  Riki completed hers after returning home & it was outstanding! (picture to come in next blog)
     Riki presented a session on making memory broaches that was enjoyed by many.  I led two sessions of Laughter Yoga that were very well received.  (I've already been told they'd like me to do it again in 2015.)
     All meals were provided.  There was a breakfast buffet at the hotel.  For lunch, we walked about 1 1/2 blocks to the local fire station.  They pulled all the equipment out & set up tables to serve us lunch each day.   Lunches included hamburgers, bratwurst, pulled pork, & a chilie cook off.  All this plus good sides & gourmet desserts.
     We were bussed to venues for the evening meal.  One night was a murder mystery event put on at their union hall.  We all had parts to play & were given cards that told our names & background. Nobody knew who the murderer was.  A few people were given special roles to play.  It turned out Riki was the murderer, much to her surprise too.  She did a great job!
     Another evening we went to Grant's Farm, one time owned in part by Ulysses S. Grant & run by Anhuser Busch.  Music and many animals kept us entertained.  One of the famous Clydesdales even stopped by.

A Really Big  Horse
     The last night was spent at the City Museum.  Everything there is from recycled materials, including the building.  There were many door prizes given away that night including five quilts, made with patches from various fire departments.  I was fortunate to win one of these.  I enjoyed it for a couple months & have since passed it on to Cory, Robert's oldest son.
Quilt I won on far right.
     The last day was strictly optional & we had signed up for events.  Riki & I joined the bus tour that took in tours of the Anhuser Busch Brewery, St Louis Cardinals Stadium, and of course, the arch.  All too soon it was over & we left having made new friends & renewing friendships among our survivor family.

     While I was gone, Gary was repainting our shed in Casa Grande.  He did a great job.

     As soon as I returned, we took the weekend to get packed up and summerize our rig, before leaving for Show Low.  We came up "on the mountain" on May 13th and had two weeks before our trip to Wyoming and Utah.   We drove our car this time, instead of the Class C.  We only planned on staying for a week and saved over $500 in gas this way.  Riki was gracious to open their home to us.   We stayed with them and enjoyed the side benefit of being able to visit with her kids.   It was a busy week,  visiting old friends and family.
     My quilting friends had a special get-together at the home of my friend, Bernie.  It was so much fun to see all their projects and of course I had to buy a couple kits.  One I've completed since I got home.  The picture doesn't really do it justice, as it's a 3-D sampler with each block being several layers deep.

     Saturday after we arrived was Tyler's
graduation, (Robert's second boy).  Robert would be very proud of him, as Tyler almost has his heliocopter pilot's license and plans on attending University of Wyoming next Fall. Here's Tyler receiving his diploma.

      We realized that next Fall we will have quite a family in Laramie, Wyoming.   Our four oldest Evanston grandchildren, Cory, Keegan, Meghan, and Tyler will be attending the University of Wyoming.  Cory's girlfriend, Hailee and their baby will be there also, along with two of Anna's fiance's children, Hunter and Madison.
     We had several family get-togethers during the week and enjoyed all of them.  We also got to see Gary's two sisters and his older brother in Salt Lake City.  We attended the high school graduation of Sharee's second son, Jed.  Unfortunately, I wasn't able to get any pictures of him.
     We visited Gary's son and the youngest grandson, Bowdie.  This is the little one that weighed just over 1 pound at birth.  Truely amazing.

     Our timing in Utah was perfect for me to help, and Gary to play, in Utah's NFFF Memorial Golf Tournament.  Gary, Riki, and her husband Kevin, play on the Evanston Team, in Robert's memory.  I help where I can with the golf tournament.  They had a full field this year and raised a lot of  money on their auctions.  All proceeds go to the NFFF.
     You may have caught that mention of a new baby in one of the previous paragraphs.  I'm about to become a Great-grandmother, when Cory and Hailee have their baby due July 4th.  This is the darling announcement they posted for their friends.

Cory and Hailee

   We didn't have much time for relaxing, but figured we could catch up when we got back to Show Low.  We wanted to see as many of our friends and family as possible.
     Other family happenings include Gary's granddaughter, Amber leaving for the Mission Training Center in Mexico, last week.  She will be serving an 18 month Spanish speaking mission in Virginia.  She's very excited and looking forward to the new opportunities.

     Once we arrived back in Show Low, Gary went to work on our metal shed, installing a window, so I could make a portion of it into my sewing studio.  Next came the fence.  We had decided on a white picket fence with a sturdy gate across the front of our yard.  We still have a lot of unfenced area in front of it, but this gives Bandit plenty of room.
New window in metal shed.
New fence and gate for Bandit's yard.
     We've settled into our summer activites, with Gary playing golf twice a week in Snowflake, and in 2-3 pool tournaments a week.  After several seconds and thirds last year, he placed first two weeks ago and tied for first last Sunday.
     A friend and I went to the Lavender Festival in Concho, about 35 miles from here.  We saw demonstrations on cooking with lavender (I didn't know you could do that.),  as well as planting and growing lavender.  Of course I bought a few plants.  They attract butterflies, smell wonderful, and seem to do really well at this altitude.  Our other plants are doing well, so hopefully these will too.
Lavender Demonstration Garden
     I'm staying busy with water aerobics, 3-4 mornings a week and sewing the many projects lined up for me.   I'm also going to be leading Laughter Yoga groups at the Senior Center and at our park.  Our Thursday night country dancing has resumed at Icy Roads.  We've had their beautiful dance floor all to ourselves from 6-7:30 the last two weeks.  While that is nice, we're worried about whether they will be able to continue without more customers, so are doing our part to publicize it.
      Until next time, we're happily dancing in Show Low....................................
      Hugs, Katy, Gary and Bandit too!