Snow in Alabama? It is a rare occurrence, but nevertheless exactly what we have today. It began at 7:00 a.m. and has not stopped (it is now 12:45 p.m.). We are expecting around 6 inches, and believe me, that is BIG snow for Alabama. The city has pretty much shut down ... except my office, and a few others. Of 60 or so employees, there are only about six of us still here. If we leave we have to take vacation time, and I am too stubborn to do that. I hope I don't regret it later. I am sitting by a window and watching the snow fall; it is breathtakingly beautiful! How can anyone experience nature and not believe in God? Today He is showing out in the deep south, and we are loving it! It is Friday, so it will be a weekend of Santa Fe soup in the crock pot, hot chocolate, chick flicks, quilting, and of course, church on Sunday. It just doesn't get any better than that this time of year. I saw a picture on WSFA.com of a snowman driving a John Deere tractor; too cute! More on the snow later!
I recently spent a wonderful evening with a very dear friend. At the time that I know she usually likes to end her day's activities and get ready for bed, I started preparing to leave and she surprised me by saying, "Oh please don't go just yet; we are having such a good gut talk." Gut talk? I had never heard that term, but she went on to elaborate about how she can spend time with many people, one on one, but with very few people has she reached a level of relationship where it is possible to have a thoroughly comfortable "gut talk." Interesting term... gut talk... my definition being (and I believe hers as well)... a conversation between parties where nothing is held back, true feelings are expressed on any given subject, with both parties feeling totally comfortable and at ease with the conversation. My friend went on to name a few people with whom I know she has a deep friendship, but she revealed that she could not engage in a gut talk with them. One specific example she gave indicated that over the course of a long period of time, they are "just beginning to reach the outer fringes of a possible gut talk." After thinking about various people who are important in my life and putting my relationship with them to the "gut talk test," I have concluded that my friend was right. There are very few people who could pass the test with me; in fact she may be about the only one. So... we continued our "gut talk" for another hour and a wonderful hour it was indeed!
Thirty-four years ago, a boy I went to high school with asked me to "go steady" with him and gave me his high school ring. This was the beginning of a four year steady relationship and my first true love. Since then, we have both gone our separate ways, married other people, had children, and made lives for ourselves in different states from each other. I have only seen him, maybe twice... from a distance, since we parted ways, and I haven't thought about him in years. Last night, out of the blue, I dreamed about him. It was one of those long and detailed dreams that feel like it's not a dream at all when you are in it. I rarely have dreams that I remember more than five minutes after awakening. When I do remember one, I can almost always pinpoint some recent conversation, something I read or saw on TV, etc, that awakened a memory in my sub-conscience that led to the dream. This time I can think of absolutely nothing that led to the dream. Regardless of the cause of the dream, it made me start thinking about first loves. I have always heard that you never forget your first love. For me that has been true. Although I rarely ever think of him, he has always been there, way back in my sub-conscience... not necessarily because of who he was or anything specific about him, but because he was the first person I ever loved in a romantic way. I believe that the experience of first love is such an important part of the process of finding out who we are as individuals. We learn so much about ourselves from the experience, and it helps shape who we become. And just like our first children, we often cut our teeth on this experience and learn from the mistakes we make with it. He was such a sweet and genuinely good guy; I really hate that he was the experience I had to learn from through my bumbling mistakes in learning how to love and be loved. There is a little piece of my heart that always has, and always will, belong only to him. I would like to think that somewhere, somehow, he knows that, and maybe there is a little piece of his heart that still belongs to me. However, life goes on, for better or worse, and here I am, 34 years later and amazed sometimes that I can even remember my first love.
Elaine's Inspirational, Encouraging Cards and Letters... Made a Difference in Diane's Life! by Diane Foresee (Montgomery, Alabama)
After I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2001, my sister gave my name to many of her friends and acquaintances and asked them to pray for me.
One of those friends, Elaine, was a retired school teacher whom she had previously worked with. I can't remember exactly when I started receiving letters and notes from Elaine.
Throughout my ordeal with battling cancer off and on over the last seven years, she has sent 2-3 encouraging notes to me every week. Some were one-liners reminding me that I was loved and some were longer, but they were all filled with encouragement and positive thoughts.
Eventually, as I got better, I began writing back. We have developed a genuine and sincere friendship over the years and now exchange letters, cards, birthday and Christmas gifts, and unexpected little surprises.
I have never seen a picture of her and have never heard her voice, but I would recognize her loopy and happy handwriting anywhere and consider her one of my best friends in the world.
I have been so awed by the positive effect her kindness has had on my health and how meaningful what she passes off as "no big deal" has been to me. She has inspired me to resolve to do "little" things every chance I get to encourage others in all types of situations.
After all, Elaine has taught me without realizing it that there are really no such things as "little things," for the smallest acts of encouragement and kindness are "huge" to the recipient.
I now have an incurable form of breast cancer and am sometimes discouraged by the fact that I see things I want to do, but just can't do them anymore. But one thing I "can" do is pass on Elaine's tradition of encouraging through handwritten notes, and I am doing that every chance I get.
WENDY'S TWO CENTS: Beautiful story... letters from stranger, no photos, is just what pals are all about.. sharing and caring through life together! Thanks so much for sharing this, Diane!
Click here to read or post comments.
Join in and write your own page! It's easy to do. How? Simply click here to return to My Special Pen Friend.
I always have been a sucker for a good love story, and one of the best I have read is the Twilight Saga by Stephanie Meyers. I never imagined that I, a mature middle aged woman, would or even "could" enjoy a story about vampires and werewolves. That is normally not even close to my style. However, the real story is the love that Edward has for Bella. How can anyone resist a young man who is polite, compassionate, respectful, has old fashioned ideals and manners, is morally good, and on top of all of that, doesn't look bad either? Even more, how can anyone resist a young man who loves his soulmate so passionately that his desire to protect her in every situation, at all times, completely outrules his own strong physical desires? What girl wouldn't be mesmerised by one who not only declares, but also proves time and again, that he would die for her without a second thought if need be? Without a doubt, Edward is everything that every girl wants, all wrapped up in one package. Bella, the apple of Edward's eye, is an ordinary teenage girl ... until you look at her through Edward's eyes. His utter and unabashed adoration of her changes everything, except the way she sees herself. Even as the object of his worship, she remains completely humble throughout the story. Once I started reading, I found it almost impossible to put the books down. The characters were fascinating and the plot had so many imaginative twists and turns that you could almost get emotional whiplash just reading it. But I think it was the author's writing style above all else that kept me glued to the pages. Her writing is easy to read and so smooth that the chapters and even the books just flow from one right into the next as if there is no division.
I understand that she has written another book, The Host, which is rumored to be equally as enthralling as Twilight. There is a part of me that wants to rush right out and find that book. Then there is another part of me that is not ready to give up Edward and Bella just yet. They became so real to me as I read their story that by the time I finished reading it almost felt as if they were actual people I know. I find myself thinking about them and imagining what a future book could hold, and I'm not sure my mind is finished with their story yet. Then there is a part of me that is shocked by how much control the books took over my life; all I wanted to do was read, read, and read some more. I didn't exactly feel comfortable with anything becoming that influential over me, and I hate to get into that again with another of her stories.
So what do you think? Will I read The Host? Or maybe a more appropriate question would be ... How long will I wait before I read The Host?
Tips for New (or Older) Quilters (Things I Wish I Had Done From the Beginning)
1. Document every quilt you make. 2. Record date started, date finished, who quilt is for and occasion, name and source of pattern, any special information such as why you chose pattern and/or fabric, if fabric was given to you and by whom, etc. 3. Keep a journal while making the quilt, documenting quilt’s progress and talking about other events in your life during that time. If giving the quilt to someone special, consider giving them the journal also. 4. Take a picture of the quilt, and also of the quilt with the maker and recipient. If possible, also take a picture of the quilt in use by the recipient or on display in their home. 5. Keep a scrapbook of all above information. Include pattern or at least pattern source, pattern history, swatches of fabric used, timeline, photos, etc.. 6. Save a 5-inch block of every piece of fabric you acquire, either by purchase, swap, or gift. Make a charm quilt with these when you have enough. 7. Make a label to sew on the back of every quilt with beginning/ending dates, quilter’s name, who quilt is for, name of pattern and/or any other info you choose. 8. Embroidering your name and the year on the front of a quilt is like an artist’s signature on an original painting. 9. Keep a running list of your quilting projects, to include any/all of following: a. WIPs, Works In Progress – things you are currently working on. b UFOs, Unfinished Objects – things you have started but set aside to finish at another time. c. Finished tops, ready to quilt. d. Quilts finished and given away. e. Quilts finished and kept. f. Quilts or quilting commissioned for pay. g. Future quilts you already have all or part of the fabric and pattern for. h. Future quilts you want to do one day. 10. Find someone to quilt with, and get together for quilting on a regular basis. It is much more fun, and you learn from each other. 11. If you don’t know any quilters in your area, don’t worry. Quilters are kindred spirits and they have a way of finding each other. In the meantime, there are lots of online quilting groups that you can join and participate in discussions, fabric and block swaps, and share ideas and info. This can be a lot of fun, but be careful not to join too many or you’ll spend all of your quilting time at the computer. 12. Be proud of your quilting hobby and show it off. Host a quilt show or show and tell party with your quilting friends every now and then, just so you can see each other’s progress, and ooh and ahh. If desired, invite other quilters, quilt collectors, and quilt lovers by leaving flyers at quilt shops, fabric shops, antique shops, flea markets and any other places quilt lovers like to shop. This can be just a show, or quilts can be available for sale if desired. You may also want to invite your local media. 13. Keep your quilting projects separated in large (2 gallon) ziploc bags. Keep everything related to the project in the bag (pattern or book, fabric, work in progress, etc.) It will be ready to grab and go anywhere at any time and nothing will get lost. Keep all of your project bags together (I keep mine in a large basket in plan view so I can see at a glance what I am working on and what I want to do next). When a project is finished, save the bag for another project. 14. When you cut out all of the pieces for a quilt top, go ahead and cut and make the binding, and put it in your project bag. You’ll be glad you did when you are ready for it later, and you won’t have to go back and find the original fabric and make it weeks or months later. 15. There are literally thousands of free quilt patterns and instructions available on the internet if you know where to look. One of the best sites is www.quilterscache.com. 16. If you collect a lot of books and quilt magazines, they will become overwhelming after a while if you don’t have some sort of system for not losing things you want to go back to. Some ideas: a. Keep two stacks going: one with patterns you want to try in the foreseeable future, and one stack of all other books and magazines. b. These can be kept in two baskets, two different bookshelves, two square plastic crates, etc. c. In the stack containing quilts you know you want to make, put a sticky note on the front of each book with page number of quilt and brief notes regarding fabric you want to use, or who you want to make quilt for. d. Be careful who you loan books to; they can get unintentionally lost very easily. Always put your name on them. e. Catalog quilt patterns by writing name of pattern on an index card and then listing each book or magazine you have containin the pattern with issue and page number. This is not only great for finding patterns you know you have but you don’t know where, but it also allows you to compare different sources of the same pattern for variations and design your own variation. This can be a bit time consuming at first as you have to go through all books, but it is fun and will pay off later. Then you can update easily each time you add a book or magazine to your collection. Just find the card listing each pattern you already have, or create a new one if needed, and add the new source to the listing on the card. f. Some people like to go through their magazines and tear out patterns they want to keep and put them in a binder and give or throw away the rest. This is a good way to purge your patterns, but I personally do not like this idea because a pattern you think you will never want to make now may become one you do want to make in the future. Quilting preferences definitely do change over time. 17. One last note: Quilt for “fun” - not perfection. The perfection will come gradually over time, and all quilts will be treasured, regardless of skill level.