Summer Adventures and Fun

August is in full swing!  Heat, humidity, thunderstorms, gardens, lawn mowing and neglected chores.  Of course, having fun in retirement is a priority, so in spite of the aforementioned……we did a road trip last weekend!  Ok, well, we DID do some yard work ahead of time, and when we got home, but that was NOT what I call fun.  The road trip was FUN!

Our road trip last weekend was to Newport News Virginia to celebrate the birthday of our now 5 year old granddaughter.  We had fun watching the kids all “bounce” at one of those giant indoor trampoline places.  I could have done without the echoing music from the onsite DJ. I’d rather be able to hear the laughter of the grandkids.  Oh did they bounce themselves right into an exhausted state!  Even their parents bounced, and appeared to be enjoying themselves!  Grandpa and I took the pass and just acted as spectators!  Following bouncing we had Pizza at a much quieter locale, and Grandpa provided the balloons!  Five of course!

5 Birthday Balloons

Then of course, there was ice cream and time for presents and movies too! After we abandoned the exhausted parents and children, Grandpa and I went exploring the area just a little bit.

We found the Monitor Merrimac Overlook Park and read about the battles during the Civil War. The view was terrific. We had to work to keep our bearings straight.   The Norfolk Naval Yards are across the water.  The James River is to the right, and the Chesapeake Bay is off to the left in the photograph below. 

Monitor Merrimac Overlook park

There was a nice little beach tucked along side this outcropping between the bay and the river.

Monitor Merrimac Overlook Park

Hubby had a dinner spot all picked out.  We ate in that “outdoor” patio section on the right.  Had to send the dear man back to the car for my sunglasses, as the light was bouncing off the water and into the dining area!  Food was good; portions large, and not to long of a wait!

Crab Shack

Huntington Park Beach  James River Newport News VA

As we dined, we could look back at the beach at Huntington Park, so we decided to follow up dinner with a drive through the park. 

 Of course, we had to find a train! We found this C&O Engine at Huntington Park Newport News VA.

C&O Engine at Huntington Park Newport News VA

At the Huntington Park Newport News VA

We also found the Virginia War Museum in Huntington Park (closed late on Saturday evening), along with lots of military equipment on display outside.  The best part of the park I think was the giant playground for kids.  Adjacent was a beautiful beach where we were able to watch the setting sun. There was a nice deck with picnic tables where we could stretch our legs, and sit and get some photo’s.

Sunset on the James River

We concluded our road trip with a visit to Tidewater Modular Railroad Club in Virginia Beach.  Hubby took lots of photo’s and exchanged ideas with the folks operating trains.  

On our drive home Sunday afternoon, we stopped in Cape Charles VA in the area where the “FERRY TRAIN” used to come across the Chesapeake Bay. Sadly, the Ferry Dock and ferries are in a state of disrepair.  I enjoyed the little town of Cape Charles, and it looked like a nice place to rent a cottage for a week in the summer.  Last night I saw an episode of HGTV where the client was looking for a home to renovate in Cape Charles!  It seems to be a popular place.

 We did a little more “rail fanning” on the ride home, and even managed to get one more seafood dinner in as we travelled.  If you are EVER on US13 travelling through POCOMOKE CITY Maryland, you MUST stop at Don’s Seafood & Chicken House. It is in the Northbound lane of US 13.  It is worth the stop.  We passed it by, did a u-turn and stopped for supper.  Wow, the crab-cakes were the best!  My hubby is NOT a foodie, but does like a good crab-cake!  He grades crab-cakes on how many “chunks of backfin” he finds.  He thought the ones at Don’s Seafood & Chicken House were far superior to the ones he had at the Crab Shack in Newport News.

For the record, no fabric was purchased during this trip, no quilt stores visited.  I did, however, wander through the 4 aisles of fabric and supplies at the big WalMart Super Center near Jefferson & Mecury Blvd in Newport News . Window-shopped, but what a wide variety they had in stock and SO very neatly arranged!  

This past week has been a busy “Quilt” kind of week and I will post some photo’s of work accomplished etc in my next post.  

What are your August plans for adventure and fun?



Road Trip to Pittsburgh

I took a road trip with the hubby this past weekend and went to Pittsburgh. My husband was involved in a model railroad gathering and we attended seminars all day on Friday and Saturday. The delight to the model railroad folks in the area is the opportunity to model many railroad lines in the western part of Pennsylvania, and the very real availability to physically “see” what they are planning to model.  This group of modelers do “prototypical modeling”, so they want as much “realism and accuracy” as they can get.  A lot of the “fun” of modeling in a prototypical fashion is the historical research.  Which rail lines went through, what industries they serviced, what commodities were being moved etc. are all factors to consider.  Some fellows were modeling from Pittsburgh to the West, while others were modeling Pittsburgh to the east.  Some folks considered a geographic area as small as 1 mile, while others spanned hundreds of miles. Throughout the seminars, one thing was readily apparent. These folks take their trains very seriously. Walking around the hotel lobby, you could hear discussions on what type of engine was used during a particular era, which line interchanged where etc.  For someone like me with a background in logistics, I am always fascinated about how freight moved before the invention of a C-141, C-5 and C17 aircraft. That is where my area of expertise makes we want to delve further back in time. I understand freight priorities, cargo tonnage and distribution concepts.  We had a speaker who fascinated me.  Charlie Blenko, was 16 years old, a sophomore in high school, and he spoke with more confidence and poise than almost any of the other presenters.  He was researching a short line railroad that had operated not very far from his home over 100 years ago.  His use of various tools, such as US Geographic maps, tax maps, and other on line sources from places line Penn State’s library were fascinating.  He really put together a presentation that was worthy of a boardroom in a business setting.  We attended a presentation by his father also, who introduced himself the next day as “Charlie’s Dad”.  You could certainly tell that the apple didn’t fall far from the tree.   Charlie’s dad has been building his model railroad at home for the last 15 years.  Charlie has become quite the railroad fan in the process.  It was nice to see this relationship between father and son over the shared hobby. Charlie’s dad, Andy Blenko, was pretty proud, with good reason.

Part of the RPM Meet (Railroad Prototypical Modelers) involved “operating sessions”.  We were included in a group of 11 to “operate” the train layout at a private home in western Pittsburgh, about an hour away from our hotel.  I am SO glad we were able to drive over in the daylight.  We were up and down, and around and across streams and hills and valleys on 2 lane country roads.  I am also very glad that the drive was worth it.  We went to operate on James Pinkney’s layout, and he was modeling the Western Maryland RR.


HO Equipment – Western Maryland

I was the “conductor” while my hubby Bill was the engineer.  I was a little “less than confidant” operating on a strange layout but all went well.  My job was to make sure I was “sorting the cars” into the right industry as we passed through various parts of the train layout. Operating is a bit like a giant game.  We pick up the train from the appropriate rail yard. The yardmaster gives you an engine or 2, set up with 20+ rail cars, and the documentation to go with each car.


Rail Yard

The engineer (Bill) contacts the dispatcher for permission to enter the “main line” of the track and proceed to our first stop, where I advise (as the conductor) which cars are to be dropped at the various industries, and which cars are to be picked up from sidings and included in the train for transfer to their next destination.  The engineer attempts to do this without tying up the main line, and with the minimum number of switching moves.  We proceed with our drops and pickups around the layout, all the while getting direction from the dispatcher.  This particular layout had several yards and a helix to help us enter higher or lower levels of the train layout.  We ran two trains between 7 pm and 11:30 pm.  One was a “local” that had a great deal of switching and was very entertaining. We learned a lot about the layout along the way.  And of course, at the end of the run, there was a beer for the conductor!   I enjoy this aspect of model railroading and had forgotten how much fun it could be.  I haven’t “operated” in a long time, so I was a bit nervous, but it came back to me quickly, especially once I figured out the paperwork, the drop points etc.


Port interchange


Steel Mill

As I mentioned, model railroaders like to depict particular era’s and industries, and this layout was nicely done.

On Sunday, we had a couple of hours to go do a little “rail fanning”.  We drove out to a steel mill area and checked out the bridges – both auto and rail, and how everything came together.  We had a good time getting off the highways and up and down and in & out of the neighborhoods and back sides of some of the industries. I was enchanted by the George Westinghouse bridge, built between 1929 and 1932, which “George Westinghouse Memorial Bridge in East Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, carries U.S. Route 30, the Lincoln Highway, over the Turtle Creek Valley near to where it joins the Monongahela River Valley east of Pittsburgh.” (source )

Before I arrived at the RPM Meet, I knew very little about the G. Westinghouse bridge.  The lecture by “Charlie’s Dad” introduced it to me and I could understand his excitement in modeling the bridge when we drove down to view the area.


Of course, we had to do a little “off highway” driving to see more!


We took a turn just before the bridge and found this road.  It was still paved, but grown over.  No longer a means to access the bridge, but I bet they were glad of the guard rails when it was in use.  We went back up to the main road and took the very NEXT turn and found another road that took us down “under” the bridge.  There are 3 rail lines in this photo and one rail bridge, along with the Westinghouse bridge and a more modern bridge on the right. There was a group of about 6 or 8 homes down this road, under the bridge.  Those folks “knew someone” who kept fresh asphalt on their road.



That railroad bridge is for the Union Railroad.

Bill wanted to see a little bit of another steel yard, so we headed out from this location, and using our faithful GPS, we found the spot he sought!


Of course, he took lots of photos of the steel mill and I wandered around looking for interesting things.  I happened upon Joe Maragac!  The story on the blue plaque was quite fanciful.



Joe Magarac is a fictional character, depicting a Croatian steelworker.  There are many legends attributed to Joe.  I spent this morning learning a bit more about his story, and the fable that depicts him –   .   The descriptions on this Croatian website are quite poetic.

On another website, I learned that Joe Magarac, the story goes, was a man made of steel. He was born in an iron ore mine and raised in a furnace.  Some versions of the story said Magarac was seven feet tall. Others claimed he was as tall as a smokestack! His shoulders were as big as the steel-mill door and his hands like the huge buckets (ladles) used to pour molten steel. He ate that hot steel like soup and cold steel ingots like meat.”

  source –    .  

An article I read from a Penn State website gave a little grimmer part of the tale.  It put the reality of the immigrant unskilled labor into a totally different light.  The article addresses the issue of fair pay, and working conditions of the steel workers, and takes all the glamour right out of the steel industry. ” Conditions were not exactly comfortable in the mills or the mill towns. Steelworkers were both overworked and underpaid at 15 cents an hour for the average 12 hour day. These wages were considerably below the living wage of the time, $3 per day. Jobs in the steel mill were hot, dangerous, and grueling but immigrants considered it better than no work at all. Not only were conditions uncomfortable, but the jobs were segregated. Prejudice ruled the mills as easier jobs were given to citizens and Northern Europeans, while the most dangerous tasks were assigned to Eastern Europeans.”  Source –

So, for me, the glimmer and gloss of the steel mill is not so shiny.  As years have gone by and labor unions struck and demanded safer conditions and fare wages, the industry changed. In Pittsburgh, the decline of the US steel industry is very apparent. There were so many areas we drove around that depicted the living conditions addressed in the article above. Turns out, the steel barons were much like the railroad barons of the 19th century.

Further along we stopped at another point and browsed around about.


This shows a hearth from the “Superintendents Club”.  On the left is another bronze  plaque that sent me to the wonders of Google this morning!


I wanted to know who this Braddock was and why they named a community for him, and what battle took place in 1755.  Turns out it was the French and Indian war, and Braddock was a British officer.  George Washington accompanied him in this battle, and survived, where Braddock did not. Braddock’s Defeat as the event was called made quite the impression on George Washington.  . The more I read about General Braddock, the more I realised he was lacking true leadership skills.  George Washington penned a letter to his mother, following the death of Braddock and described the defeat in general terms. He tells his mother “I luckily escaped without a wound, though I had four bullets through my coat, and two horses shot under me.”’sDefeat.html  Other accounts are not nearly as generous to General Braddock.    “His rudeness and arrogance made a thoroughly bad impression on the colonials and were to contribute to a jaundiced view of the British officer class.”

We are still trying to decide why the area was named for this General!

Across the street directly from this monument was another memorial, this one to the US military.  Sadly it is in a terrible state of disrepair, which is indicative of the community that surrounds this steel mill.



As I left Pittsburgh, I thought a lot about the human side of industry.  This monument in such terrible condition reminds me of the human side of the US Military too, who work those very long shifts, in often poor working conditions; much like the steel workers did. Gratefully the pay is much better, but often not always a living wage for the lowest ranking. I also know why so many people I had contact with in the Air Force over 37 years, had left the rust belt, looking for better lives for themselves and their families, and finding the Air Force offered those opportunities.  Some of the folks I knew from the Pittsburgh area were among the hardest working and hardiest people I encountered.

In closing, I want to express that the hobby of model railroading is so much more than a “bunch of men playing with trains”.  There is so much history to be learned, along with the logistics of moving freight. It is a great hobby to introduce to a young person, as there are so many directions to make the hobby your own.



Building Blocks for Step 4 Scrap Dance Tango

It is amazing how much you can get done in an afternoon!  The parts are all in bins, ready to assemble.  Carol designed the steps in such a manner that we just had to assemble “already constructed parts” for this step.  Block A is completed- all 72 for a king size!

43 out of 72.

Pairs selected for the next  bit  of stitching for step 4

All 72 blocks completed

Hubby had a model railroad club “ops session” and was gone , and I took advantage of the time to get Step 4 for the Scrap Dance Tango Mystery Quilt completed.

Believe it or not, I even cooked dinner. Afterwards, I went back out to my sewing room and took all the blocks off the wall and put them back into their file trays, to wait for “next month”.  Remember, I still have a couple of boxes of “parts” ready to go!    I know I am in good shape for the Half Square Triangles.  How about this for a little math:  I made 1430 half square triangles.  In block A that I just completed, I have used 720 of them. The rest await the next step.  We also used 144  dark 2.5″ squares and 288 background 2.5″ squares.  I may have to do  a recount and see if I have all those solids  & neutral squares ready .

The king size might seem daunting, but I have to say, having it broken out into the steps is really working! Thanks Carole!

For scale reference, the Half Square  Triangles are 2.5″.

Pattern is by Carole on her blog From My Carolina Home

Oh, I did mention I am working on a baby quilt…..I finally have all the fabric prewashed, and have been working off and on all week to get it all starched and iron and ready for cutting.  I have 3 more pieces to tackle before the cutting begins.

As I was sewing yesterday, it was snowing!  Yes, my tulips are up, the daffodils have passed their peak, the iris are coming along nicely, the spring grass needs to be mowed, and we had wet huge snow flakes mixed with rain all afternoon.  Today, the sun shines, no snow stuck, and the grass is too wet to mow and we woke up to frost.  Spring has been fickle this year.    That is what we get for the 75 degree Christmas day we had!

Somehow, I don’t think I will get to sewing any skirts for my trip or doing any fun embroidery work on t-shirts either. Oh well, nobody cares what I am wearing on my cruise! My capris from last year won’t get worn this week anyway, so I can start pulling them out and getting them ready to pack.  I’m have way to much fun to fuss anyway!  One week from today I will be flying to California to meet up with my little sister before we board our ship on Monday for 15 days round trip to Hawaii. I am going to leave all the planning to her! The only non-fun is the 6 am flight on Sunday for a short hop to Philadelphia and thank goodness the flight west is NON-STOP and I will be asleep as much of that flight as possible!

What exciting plans do you have for this week??


Half Square Triangle FUN

525 done.  905 to go!!

I FINISHED MY 1430 !!!

  I am working on the Scrap Dance Tango Mystery Quilt and in Step 1 we needed to construct 2.5″  half square triangles.  Well, I bit the big bullet and decided to go for the KING size; and it required 1430!!!  I have been plugging away at them since mid January.  Carole promised we would not need them all the first month!

Step 2 required 432 in the construction of the first block –

144 made for step 2 of the Scrap Dance Tango Mystery quilt

I made 144 of those blocks.

Then Step 3 required 288 in the construction of the second batch of blocks –

Step 3 complete Scrap Dance Tango Mystery quilt

I made 144 of those blocks.

And then I continued to work on my squaring up of  the rest of the blocks, 20 here, 20 there and I am finally done!  This container has 739 in it!!

739 half square triangles in this container

I figure I made about 29 extra HST’s, but hey, I would rather have a few extra than come up short at the end.  All the fabrics except the neutral came from my abundance of scraps.  I use the June Tailor Perfect Half-Square & Quarter-Square Triangle tool for marking cutting and squaring up.  I like it better than any other method I have tried.

The good news is, I am NOT burnt out on HST’s and am planning a BABY QUILT for my newest tiny granddaughter who is just 2 weeks old.  She is having grey, white, and coral accents in her nursery and I acquired the fabric Monday for her quilt!  I am thinking a chevron pattern with 4 or 5″ blocks. Graphic and modern will be the goal!!

Baby quilt fabrics

Now, the bad news is, I don’t have a lot of time before I leave on a trip to Hawaii the middle of April, so she will probably not get to her quilt until I am back home the first week of May!!   Next week is “Ocean Waves Quilt Guild week” with a meeting on Monday, followed by an executive board meeting; class on Tuesday, a trip to the airport with the speaker on Wednesday, a board meeting on Thursday and the release of Scrap Dance Tango Step 4 on Friday!!  Oh, and I am going on Sunday to pick up the speaker in Maryland!  PHEW….when am I going to pack for Hawaii??   Keep an eye open for progress as I go along.  Gosh, it might be fun to try my hand at hand quilting while I am on my 15 day cruise, but I don’t think I want to try this as a “first” project.  I would need my quilt bee buddies along to guide me and none of them are going to be tagging along!

I am still working on Senior Quilts.  We tied 3 yesterday at church, and will tie the other 3 on Saturday.  I brought 2 more home to bind, and will start prepping that binding this afternoon.  I will do those with Susie’s Magic Binding!!

I have another project  “on the floor” of the quilt room, laid out and planning borders.  My friend June started this quilt from a kit her daughter gave her at least 15 years ago.  It was a UFO that she really wants finished, but is just not quilting much any more.  I mentioned it previously and showed pictures as I was adding borders.  I am working on the 20″ drop (in the green) that she wants and am short fabric.  So, creative thinking has got me adding a panel along both sides and I will also be adding a couple of strips similar to what shows on the right side of the picture.  2016-03-25_07-37-44

It has been a struggle to get this finished for her, with her design concepts very different from mine!  Oh well, you may see this again about once a month, because it seems I can only dedicate one day every few weeks to working on it!!

Time to make some binding and think about that sweet little baby girl whose quilt fabric is calling me.  Honestly, finding time to sew is tough, because I have been hopping in the car as often as I can to go visit and hold and snuggle her!  I forced myself to stay home today, do a little laundry, clean toilets and sweep the kitchen and sew binding.  Can you guess where I would RATHER be ??  And I am thinking ahead to later in the spring or early summer when her cousins will come from Texas for a visit and to meet the new addition to our family!  Gosh I love being a Grandma!!!  And let me tell you….Grandpa is enchanted as well!

Time to get sew!!  Enjoy your projects and family time!  (Remember my last post?  Yes, the final border for Allietare is still waiting!)


note; Allietare is a Bonnie Hunter / Quiltville mystery quilt

           Scrap Dance Tango Mystery Quilt is designed by Carole at From My Carolina Home blog.

Links to both are on the side bar of the blog.






Thursdays Doors Niagara on the Lake

11 years ago, I took a wonderful trip with my best friend and our daughters to Niagara On the Lake in Ontario Canada.  We spent a delightful long weekend attending theater productions in the evenings and sightseeing during the day.    On one of our drives from Niagara Falls back to Niagara On the Lake we stopped at the bequest of one of the daughters to take a photo of this wonderful house with the red door.


We were all charmed by the beauty of the home, the yard and the bright red door.  Imagine our surprise at the name when we got “up close” to take the photo!!


A stay in Niagara on the Lake is best experienced at one of the delightful inns or  bed & breakfast abodes you will find in the quaint town.


Our stay at the Highgrove was delightful.


Imagine returning everyday to this welcoming front door!

No trip to Niagara on the Lake would be complete without a visit to Niagara Falls!


Or a road trip –


that ends in a place like this –


and then, when you have stopped at more than one or two of these places –  you tend to get a little silly –


For more photo’s of the falls and around the village of Niagara on the Lake, check out my FLICKR album – Niagara on the Lake album

This post is part of Thursday Doors, an interesting and fun series orchestrated by Norm Framptom. Check out Norm’s page to see his door, and a link to the other doors this week. You can also add a door of your own and join the fun.Thursday Doors is a weekly feature allowing door lovers to come together to admire and share their favorite door photos from around the world. Feel free to join in on the fun by creating your own Thursday Doors post each week and then sharing it, between Thursday morning and Saturday noon (North American eastern time)


Thursday’s doors

I was looking through my albums yesterday and tripped over some photos from a few years ago.  I thought I would link up to the Thursday Doors.  Norm’s Thursday Doors posts

I have taken 2 cruises in the last 11 years to Mykonos Greece.  My second trip gave me the opportunity to take these photos.

Mykonos Greece

I love the variety of colors in these doors and windows.

Mykonos Greece

The doors are pretty simple, but the color stands out against the whitewashed buildings.

windmills in Mykonos Greece

The blue is the typical color.

Doorway in Mykonos

All that is left is the door way here!

Mary Cruise 033

Through this doorway you can see my transportation!

Mykonos Greece church doors

There were many small places of worship around the island.

Hope you enjoyed this little visit to Mykonos and all the colorful doors & doorways!

Half way there and another QAL

Well; I played on Sunday afternoon instead of sewing, so I am ONLY 1/2 way there on joining my Allietare rows.  The weather was almost SPRING like, so on my way home from church I made a decision that it was too pretty not to “go out and play”.  The hubby and I took a ride over to Rehoboth Beach, had lunch, walked a bit on the boardwalk. He failed to wear his coat, so our walk was brief.  I could not believe how many people were out with the same idea. It was so fun to see all the dogs out for a walk too. That only happens off season in Rehoboth during the daytime.  Since we had a big lunch, when we got home late in the afternoon, I did squeeze a couple of hours of sewing time in.Half of the rows joined

On Monday, I spent my sewing time working on making the rest of those half-square triangles I needed for the Scrap Dance Tango Quilt.  I needed 380 more. I have them all sewn and pressed, now I will spend the next week trimming at the kitchen counter in the morning or after dinner.  Time to start filling the next bag of slivers for the birds.

Do you see the “new button” on the side of this blog for the Bargello quilt along?  I tripped over Elm Street Quilts thanks to A Stitch In Time blog.  Both BLOGS are found on Bloglovin.  This QUILT ALONG will be done over the period of a month or so, and there will be “fabric prizes” from the sponsors.  The project will be in 2 sizes – a mini at 16″ square, and a baby size at 36″ square.  I have thought about doing a Bargello for a long time, but didn’t want to tackle a huge one. This one is done with 2.5″ strips, and I thought I would check my “SCRAP STORAGE SYSTEM” to see what I could come up with along with the background fabric. If you are viewing on a device where you don’t see the buttons; here is a link – Bargello Quilt Along introduction  .  I figure a 16″ mini could always be turned into a throw pillow or a table topper.    Hope you quilt along too!

Tuesday, my “partner in quilt” came over and we worked on those donated fabrics and got them prepped for our Ocean Waves Quilt Guild meeting on Monday. Kathi & I run the 2nd time around table, and we take the donated fabrics and “re-sell” them to guild members. While Kathi worked on this great stack – Prepping for the guild,

I worked on the scraps.  We have 6 or 7 one gallon zip locks sorted by color full of scraps, ready to sell for 50 cents per bag.  Last month I sold 10 bags of scraps!  If they don’t sell, I know where they are going to “end up”……giggle….

After Kathi went home, I managed to work a while on my Allietare again, and I worked on it some this afternoon too.  I have all but one row stitched to the second “half”…… Nearly connected   Note – the 2nd half is on the ironing board waiting on me!  I think Thursday will be the day when it is all joined, and ready for trimming and decisions about the 1st narrow border!  It is really coming along quickly.

Hope you are stitching something fun!!!  I am thinking about getting some embroidery machine time scheduled in the next few days too!  I want to get some t-shirts ready for SPRING and my upcoming cruise to Hawaii!  I downloaded 3 fun tropical designs tonight from Embroidery Designs . com; and have 3 more on my wish list for next week’s free downloads.

What are you working on this week?