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Category Archives: Trips

Fabric on The Road, Seriously

Last night we returned from our last sales trip of the year 2011, this one to Troy, Michigan. I didn’t find the right fabric to bring home but

Fabric found me,

Road Fabric, that is.

Friday night, this truck was parked outside our motel room. Really. I had to blink twice.


What the heck is a GeoTextile?

Road Fabrics Truck

Up at 6:30 the next morning and the trucks were gone!  However later that morning a couple of trucks returned and I was able to document the rolls of netting and mysterious fabrics and bundles on the flatbeds

Road Fabric Rolls


Road Fabrics

How curious. The trucks were pulling machines with spray nozzles that were covered in drippy, gooey, tarry looking black stuff. So this is what the future of textiles looks like? I was too shy to interrupt the crew members and interrogate ask them about the process.

So Gaely and her shadow just circled the wagons

Gaely and her Shadow

puttering around, doing what a woman and a dog do on a sunny morning and trying to mind our own business. Gaely had no trouble with this.

That afternoon I tried to buy fabric, really I did, at Haberman’s in Royal Oak, MI. I found the perfect piece, a smooth, hard, gray wool jersey knit by Michael Kors but there was only 1.25 yards left, not enough. The store is fabulous, the fabrics are great, ohhhh, the buttons, the patterns, the boning! but nothing was exactly what I was looking for. I walked out of a fabric store empty handed. That’s right. It happened.

I’m home and there are no more sales trips on the 2011 calendar. I think it’s safe to unpack the suitcase until 2012.

And I will have time to sew. Most likely sewing will happen.



Milwaukee Trip

Travel has its benefits! I finally got to meet up with the talented and lovely Linda (AKA MamaFitz)

Linda Pedraza Fitzgerald and Me

at her beautiful home across the street from a city park and Lake Michigan.

Lake Michigan

Gaely got her first view of Lake Michigan and wanted to explore the Break Water ASAP

Overlooking the Break Water

so we walked out on the huge concert blocks to see the crystal clear waters

Beautiful Clear Water

and gaze across the bay

View from the breakwater

In spite of the No Dogs Allowed sign this is a popular place for dog walkers and every person and animal we met were warm and friendly

Dog Walker

Linda joined us with her dogs Randal and Esperanza. This is the bright and tiny Esperanza, posing for a photo.


There’s a really excellent photo of them on Linda’s blog Told you she was talented, didn’t I? How’d she get them to sit like that 🙂 Must be Magic!

We ladies chatted while the animals investigated the beach and finally bonded into a pint sized pack


It was a gorgeous day to be at the Lake and over too soon.

Sumac Amongst the Fall Trees

Back in the City Gaely liked to watch the goings on in the street from atop a suitcase

Gaely Monitoring the Street from Atop a Suitcase

although there were no squirrels she could always hope for some excitement

Excitement on the Street

Everyone in Milwaukee was quite friendly and happy to see Gaely and she made friends wherever we went. I just was not inspired to photograph the city in spite of the great architecture and beautiful River. I felt frustrated at not being able to go to the Milwaukee Art Museum as I didn’t want to lock Gaely up in the truck. She didn’t even want to go near the vehicle when I had to go get something out of it and I just couldn’t do that to her. So we walked around the city and endured the cold and wind and some light rain while Dave manned the tables at the Montessori conference. I hate that dogs are not allowed into most buildings!

Gee, the first Westie I ever saw came into a bar in Scotland with her black Scottie housemate and her lovely Scottish gentleman owner where the dogs curled under the table while himself sipped his pint of beer. We in US are just too uptight about dogs. Harrumph!

The trip home was uneventful, thank goodness. Dave’s new iPhone GPS gave us a new route through the hills of Kentucky and Tennessee that included a one lane road and bridge. That was surprising and we were very glad we were not towing the 20′ trailer as it probably would have been too wide to pass across that bridge! But Fall colors were quite beautiful all along the trip and especially in the back woods. At our first rest area stop on the way home Gaely rolled and rolled to get the city grim off her coat and she came up looking quite a bit more white. Smart dog!

We are so glad to be home now and we will be here for another 11 days. Wow, a weekend at home. Excellent. We’ll just go quite wild, I imagine.

Trip to Sarasota

The latest journey of 1450 miles was to Sarasota, FL. Click on any photo below to see a larger size

A quick stop in Valdosta, Georgia, to procure some items for a Montessori product let me take a few photos

Massive quantities of Spanish moss in an old dogwood tree

Spanish Moss and old Dogwood

Magnolia seed pod on the ground

Magnolia Seed Pod

We had lunch at the Old South BBQ House where this sign took up the whole wall of the dining patio. The ubiquitous Southern drag races, born of the bootlegger’s mad race to make deliveries and avoid the “Revenuers” enforcing Federal liquor laws, are the precursors of today’s multimillion dollar NASCAR enterprises.

Old South BBQ House

After getting settled in at our Sarasota hotel and setting up the display for the Montessori conference, Gaely and I had a day together to do “dog things”.  We walked forever in the soft mild ocean breezes. The temperature was almost too cool, only warming up to the mid 70’s in the afternoons.

We visited the dog-friendly Bird Key Park and Bay Front Park where dogs are required to be on a leash. Gaely sniffed and investigated every trace left by prior canine visitors and looked for lizards to chase. West Highland White Terriers are terriers to the max and they live to hunt and chase and have great adventures. I’m not able to run as much as Gaely wanted, so we traveled north to visit the De Soto Memorial Park, a beach where she could go without a leash and explore the beach unfettered.

De Soto Point

We arrived just as high tide was abating

High Tide

The Park has a wonderful nature trail where signs tell the story


and life size images show the dress and habits of the De Soto expedition

De Soto Crew Member display

and the Native Americans living there at the time. The De Soto crew took slaves and forced them to work in the service of the expedition. In the lower right hand corner of the photo you can see a pig brought to Florida by the expedition. These pigs ran free and many escaped to start the colonies of wild boars that are now ravaging much of the South, growing to huge sizes after interbreeding with Russian boars, also escapees from wild game hunting camps.

Enslaved Native Americans

These images are so realistic I almost jumped out of my skin when one would pop up along the trail unexpectedly! Yikes!!

I enjoyed the De Soto Memorial Park more than my poor, solitary dog did, I’m afraid.  I just can’t take the place of her having another animal’s companionship. She had more fun there in 2009 when we visited with Patch and she had another dog to stimulate her natural curiosities


She could almost disappear against the white sand beach

White Dog on White Sands

She wanted to go hunting in the red mangrove swamp and I really didn’t want that to happen. The mangroves near the beach are very dense and completely impossible for a human to walk through. I don’t know how De Soto and his crew did it. I certainly didn’t want to have to go rescue her in the middle of the swamp! I think this Westie actually grew bored and bothered by the sun and wind. She is 14 years old now and maybe entitled to a grumpy mood now and then.


At home Gaely loves to jump in to our rivers and lakes and have a cool drink while she’s wading around but jumping into the ocean and taking a lap of salt water was not what she was expecting.

Her face says it all: Ick, salty!!!!

Don't Drink the Water

I had planned to lie on the beach and spend a couple of hours taking photos and had lugged a water jug, the dog’s water bowl and a fruit drink for me, a towel, my purse and the camera in it’s case. Gaely hates being photographed and I don’t know how she knows that I’m trying to take her picture but she always turns her head away unless I’m very very stealthy.

Back of the Head

I got no cooperation with my plans to relax and shoot beautiful dog photos

Side of the head

so I gave up and we moved to the grass covered entrance to the park and lay under the trees, no doubt waiting for something to chase. Again, no lizards! How can that be? There are lizards everywhere in Florida, in fact there must be more reptiles in Florida than there are humans, and there’s way too many humans in Florida. So we walked to the thatched huts the Park service has erected to demonstrate the type of housing of the Native Americans

Thatched Hut

and there we found the missing lizards! Yay! Plenty . of . lizards. At last.

Back in Sarasota in the late afternoon I discovered a small, partly fenced area that might have been an unpaved parking area. There were hickory trees and date palms and sand right next to the back entrance to a Yacht club and no cars were using the road at all so it was quiet, safe and perfect and absolutely full of SQUIRRELS!

Ahhhhh, a place I could let Gaely off lead to chase, hunt, stalk, and harass the little creatures that were greedily eating up the new crop of hickory nuts.

The squirrels immediately raced up the trees to safety. So, for the next hour Gaely patiently stared up the tree trunks, waiting for the squirrels to give up and come on down, but in spite of a young squirrel’s attempts to reach the ground, she wasn’t given the chance to chase them. But she was happy, very happy.

Even though we all enjoyed being together on this trip and meeting our friends of many years at the conference we’re glad to be home. While we were gone the cucumber and basil plants have been nipped by frost. The fall season is upon us.

Before we left on this trip I found this 1960 photo of Suzy Parker


and saved it because her jacket is longer than the Edit Head pattern I sewed up last year but so similar in the strapped sleeves, peter pan collar and even the number of buttons

1950-1960 Edith Head pattern

Two more sales trips and then we’re home for the rest of 2011. Excellent!

Rocky Mtn Trip & HP 1003: The Perfect Traveling Jacket

My new uniform! Enough room for multiple layers and sweaters but style enough for just a cami underneath. Easy to slide into and out of, those huge sleeves make perfect sense. And the pockets, Oh My Gosh, made keeping keys and necessaries so easy.

The New Uniform

Seriously, I wore this jacket last week almost constantly on a driving trip to the Rockies. That is 4 days in the truck and 3 days in Estes Park, going with the flow from hot weather to snow.

We rented a tiny cabin

Miner's Cabin

with a fantastic view


and explored the local surrounds after making breakfast, packing lunches and cleaning the cabin


while David Lee showed his Hello Wood Products Montessori materials and furniture to a wonderful group of teachers attending the Montessori in the Mountains conference put on by the Montessori Education Center of the Rockies.

It’s the time of year when elk come down from the high mountain to graze the lower meadows


and they wandered everywhere through the grounds of the site of the conference, the fabulous YMCA of the Rockies.

Gaely GoLightly kept vigilant watch for smaller things she could understand, like squirrels and and chipmunks.  She’s 14 now and her eyesight is poor enough that she doesn’t wander far from my side.  She’s a much more prudent dog than she was as a wild Westie youngster when nothing could stop her


We dined out only one night and mostly ate in the cabin which had a tiny kitchen. We were able to keep costs down and avoid the rich foods served in restaurants. These sales trips can be plenty fattening if we have to eat out all the time.

Dave had originally planned to pack up quickly and return to Tennessee ASAP to get back to work but Jane, a very wise woman who owns Montessori Services convinced me to plead for a quick trip through the National Park.


You can see the trip photos here on my Flikr set  I must apologize (even tho some will tell me not to apologize, this I already know) in advance for the darkness of the photos. It was difficult to use a point and shoot camera, even with amazing telephoto lens, to shoot across such light and dark and deep landscape. The colors were amazing, changing constantly with the snow storm and then clear mountain light in the afternoon.

I wish we had more time to spend in Rocky Mountain National Park. Maybe some day I can go back and hike and camp and do all the things that I wish to do.

I am reading A Lady’s Life in the Rocky Mountains by Isabella L. Bird. You can read it online here or download an audio version here I highly recommend getting to know her life and work.

What a delightful time this has been and is continuing to be, thanks to the book. More access to it is available at LibriVox

I was scheduled to join Dave on this weekend’s travel to South Carolina Montessori Alliance conference in Columbia tonight and Saturday, but I reneged on my driver’s responsibilities in order to stay home and process the jalapenos and bell peppers which are bending their bushes to the ground. The Santa Ana pole bean plants are still producing as are some of the heirloom tomato plants and okra. The fall plantings of sugar snaps and sweet peas are coming in and the cole crops are being enjoyed by caterpillars that I mercilessly pick off and smash under my toe. For the first time in my gardening life I used Sevin, sprayed before our trip, to protect the plants from aphids and those caterpillars while I was gone. I really don’t know if I’ll do that again. While it helped the Brassicas to thrive (except for one row that was being munched when I got home and I can’t explain why) I am afraid I’ve done more damage than good. My wasps are gone and aphids have invaded the okra. Oh dear, I do hope I didn’t upset the balance of nature there! Ah, well the okra is over 12′ tall now and slowing down it’s production of pods in the cooling Fall temps.

One beet has been pulled by me (yay!) and a number of carrots have been pulled by what I suspect are voles tunneling under the row! That’s a funny thing to see: the carrot tops slowly disappearing into the ground. Yeah, I’m easily amused. 🙂

By Wednesday I’ll be on the road again, this time to Sarasota, Florida’s beautiful beaches and perhaps a dinner with the Hot Pattern crew if we can match up our schedules. Sadly, Patch won’t be with us this trip but it’s fun to see the pictures of him and Gaely enjoying the Beach from our Nov 8, 2009 trip.  Click this link, to see my fav shot of Patch on the Beach, looking so happy after such a long life at the end of a short chain.  Ah, that was a grand trip, too!

Isn’t it great to be able to sew and have a wardrobe that will work in all these different climates? What a luxury, I couldn’t have matched it back when I worked in a corporate environment and had to travel.

After Sarasota, Florida, we will be in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. From the warm beach to the cold beach. Ahhhhhh! I will have my new jacket with me for sure


100_1186 Dog & Jacket

I clearly wasn’t ready for this last shot, LOL!

Trip to Canada

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I’m back home after a 1550 mile trip to Toronto to meet Els, her dear husband, and Lorna and her charming young daughter.  Photos of us may come later when I get permission to post them but in the mean time I can show you me in shorts I made and a store bought top.  The shorts were cut from Burda Plus Fall/Winter 2008,  a pattern that fit me 2 years ago so there were no surprises except that I was losing weight.  After wine every evening with Els, however, that trend chugged to a stop!

The Thimble, Symbol of Toronto's Fashion District

Two things are unusual about this photo:  I am standing still. I am standing alone.

The ONLY serious complaint I have about Toronto is that the streets are not easy to walk.  They are dangerously uneven.  I’m used to uneven surfaces in country fields but in the city there is so much to watch out for that all the bad paving is difficult.  Especially if you walk miles and miles 🙂

Els and I met up on Wednesday evening at the Isabella Hotel where we all stayed and had non-stop fun until we went our separate ways on Sunday.  We have been writing each other since 2004, and collaborating on The Sewing Divas since 2006.  It was high time we met!

On Friday evening we gathered for dinner with two wonderful ladies I met in Palm Springs at the January 2009 Claire Shaeffer’s Couture Jacket Tailoring workshop, Sharron and Katherine. Can the Canadians be the most witty and charming people on earth?  Just maybe so.

And on Friday night, but too late to join our dinner, into Toronto flew Lorna and her daughter!  We spent Saturday negotiating the public transit system and touring the Fashion District, visiting fabric stores that Els and I had missed on Thursday.  Lorna’s daughter, it turns out, has a great eye for quality fabrics.  No question how that happened!

We topped off the day with a lovely visit to the Art Gallery of Ontario.  Oh my gosh, I enjoyed the gallery so much that I finally “got” the Abstract Expressionist New York movement, (AKA AbEx), something I’ve been reaching for since I was first aware of this intellectual movement born in NYC in the 40’s and 50’s.

So that’s really something.

But the AbEx was just the tip of the iceberg.  The range of paintings and sculpture is astounding and a thorough viewing could take more than 6 hours.  Also showing that day were:  Inuit Modern, Art in the 20th CenturyWhere I was born…” : A Photograph, a Clue, and the Discovery of Abel Boulineau; and The Thomson Collection: which “comprises Canadian paintings, First Nations objects, European works of art – primarily northern European sculpture and decorative arts dating from the early Middle Ages to the mid 19th century – plus ship models from the Napoleonic era to the 20th century. ” And then there’s the building itself which entertained Lorna’s daughter outside for the hours that Els and I gaped at the treasures inside.   Visit this Gallery if you ever get to Toronto.  It’s truly worth the visit.

Oh, there’s more:  we found the Mokuba store in Toronto, a bit smaller than the NYC store shown by the link, but astounding just the same!  We found The Wool House (of course we did, I’ve been obsessed with their fabrics since they first came to a US sewing expo in 2003).  The Wool House has a Facebook page, by the way. We found the biggest, cheapest commercial kitchen store in China Town and the best Vietnamese restaurant in Toronto.  We found a new-to-Els Williams-Sonoma store, avoided the Chanel and other high end retailers, and dropped into Divine Decadence only to be transported to the era when dressmakers would recreate the latest gowns for their wealthy clients.

Seriously, have you ever met long time pen pals and felt that the family has finally been united?  I couldn’t have asked for a better dream come true!  And I must tahnk Els’ husband for putting up with us women.  He is a brave and fascinating man.

A big shout out to Els, Sharron and Katherine, and Lorna.  You are all just simply wonderful and will be in my heart forever!


Memorial Day 2011, Morning Ramble

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Revolutionary War Soldier

Confederate Soldier

Old Style Grave

Stewart Cemetery

More photos at Flikr set Memorial Day 2011

Then we visited Cane Creek Park. Cane creek winds through the edge of our subdivision, causing some of the homes to be classified by FEMA as in the flood zone (not so good)

Boat Launch Cane Creek Park: No Noisey and dirty gas motors 🙂

Willows at the Fishing Pier

Cane Creek Lake

Swamp Log

You can tell by the smoothness that this log had been in the water a long time

Weed Seeds

Path Through the Morning Woods

Tall Tulip Poplar

Twisted Maple Trunk

Iron Wood Tree

Iron Wood is very strong and dense, used for axe handles and such. It has ripples that feel like a heavily muscled arm under my hand. One of my favorite tree trunks

Gaely chases squirrels into the trees

Such Longing! Such Cuteness!!!

Gaely Taking a Drink in the Lake

All before 9 am. Now back to the hard labor of landscaping, planting and chipping