Sunday, May 23, 2010

My first Flowers (SNOW) on the Lake!

I think I am a pretty good driver. I have good reflexes, great depth perception and can spot a cop from a mile away. OK, the cop-spotting is debatable but nothing could have prepared me for the drive up to Lake Tahoe last Monday.

Joe and I watched the weather channel the night before and saw a chance for snow. Great! This is our first art quilt retreat,  Flower on the Lake,  hosted by Joe and I.

The last weeks have been a little stressful, with the retreat in jeopardy, not because of weather but because of low attendance.  I have been traveling TOO MUCH and missed the deadline to cancel, so the retreat was still a possibility. At the last minute, Joe made a deal with the conference grounds to let us come, even thought it was just 8 of us with 16 rooms booked.  In fact, as other groups had canceled, we would be the only people there.

So we made our way up the hill in a pouring rainstorm that turned into a snowstorm at  Kyburz (a small town on highway 50 that is essentially 3 buildings and boasts a sign reading Welcome to Kyburz and below it Now leaving Kyburz ).  My Tahoe is 4 wheel drive but I have never used it and don't even know how to use it.   Joe is in his turbo GTI with no chains.  He can go really fast, but where we are, in the weather there is, nobody is going fast. So he follows me into Tahoe.

I kept noticing that all the snowplows where going the other way.  At one point the frost built  up on my window so much, that I couldn't see. I had to lean over to the middle of the window to see the road. 
How are my girls going to get up here?  One is flying in from Canada and one is coming from Red Bluff.
So far this is looking like, as Will Ferrel said in Anchorman, a "Poor choice."  The snow is falling heavier and the wind is gusting as we arrive to check in.  The temperature is 28 degrees and dropping.

Two of my students have already made it here.  OK, I now officially have my first retreat.  We unload our cars and check out our lakeview rooms to see nothing but a snowy white blanket covering Lake Tahoe. This is not starting out so good.  I set up and started to worry about the other travelers. How are they going to make it up here?  I call Miss Canada, her airplane is delayed and she is stuck in San Francisco until midnight. I then start calling all the other campers to tell them about the snowstorm.  Too late. They are already in it somewhere on a snowy road. I say a little prayer.  Then the door blows open with a bang and in walks Deb.  I can see that she is smiling, which is good,  I think.  She starts to tell her horror story of white out conditions and not being able to see the road.   I start to freak out.  She almost went off the road and had no idea how she got here,  her visibility was near zero the whole way.  At one time she screamed "Jesus, take the wheel!" just like the song. If the song was screamed.  Very loudly. She just happened to put her chains in her car at the last minute.

Its now 5pm and the girls were to be here at 3pm. The door opens and in walk 2 more snow bunnies laughing and letting out a sigh of relief.  They tell about their scary trip with their noses pushed up against the window, like two far sighted little old ladies because they can't see a thing.  We were in hysterics by now. Now we are just waiting for miss Red Bluff.  I call her cell,  she picks up the phone, and before I can get a word in I hear her say, in a loud voice, "I Don't Do Snow! " Me neither, I say.  She says she'll see us the next morning. Sounds good to me.

So the six of us look out the windows to see nothing, and I mean nothing, but white.  The snow storm has turned into a blizzard. Great.  Joe is on the road somewhere trying to make it down the hill in a sports car that is meant for anything but what he is currently in. Then the door opens again and it's snowy Joe. Thank God!
He was turned back and now wants my SUV to try again to get home. Great! now I am stuck in the snow with a car I can barely get in and out of.

So here we are, stuck in a snowstorm, can't go anywhere.  We are sitting in a beautiful, warm room with a lot of fabrics and sewing machines.  Aaaahhhhhh  There is no better way to spend a stormy day than to be surrounded by fabric, sewing machines and chocolate.

I can't wait for next year!   Picture taken by Jacque Moore.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Oh, Paducah!

I just got home, 2 days later than scheduled, from Paducah, Kentucky. But, do not worry or fret for me, because I just hit the jackpot and I never had to leave Kentucky.  I had an impulsive moment and acted intuitively for the first time in a long while. Those days of having to get home to the kid are behind me and now I have freedom I never had.  Maybe the empty nest is not so bad after all.

I flew into Paducah on a very small plane, which I love.  The plane was full of quilters and one poor traveler that had no idea what had just happened to him.  You could feel the excitement in the air as we landed at the  very small Paducah airport. We were met with AQS signs and a welcoming committee wearing red coats, right there at the airport.  Impressive.  I also meet up with 3 other teachers on the same journey.  They were Esterita Austin, Bonnie McCaffery, and Lyric Kinard. WOW!  What a creative bunch and, to top it off, they are really nice people. We all hit it off, and did what teachers always do when they arrive in a new venue.  We started worrying about whether or not all the class supplies we had shipped to Paducah had made it.  They had. 

The week was full of hectic running around - trying to find the right bus, would it be here in time, and how do I get this big bag back to the hotel?   We hauled big bags all over Paducah with achy feet and tired arms but it was all worth it because our students make it so much fun. They were hungry to learn and seeing them get it is such a joy.  I love my job!  But the true adventure was just around the corner,  disguised as the trip home.
We arrived at the airport on a rainy afternoon to make our separate ways home, and find the airport full of quilters. I'm glad I have a seat, but the plane is late and there are storms all over the place. Chicago has big delays and that is where we are all going first.  So we talk to the other quilters, meet some new friends and just wait. I start to get a little goofy while we wait, which is what I do best.  I mean, I'm good at getting goofy.  I am not a good waiting.
Oh, did I mention that we were hanging with last year's Best of Show winner at AQS and Houston, Mariya Waters, from Australia, who was there with her sweet husband?  Her quilts, yes, I said quilts, were bought for a lovey sum by the AQS museum.  It's just another day at the airport.  I got a cute shot of these romantic Aussies. Mariya is very witty and quite a hoot!
I will use this to blackmail her later.  I'm guessing that was her husband, but who knows?  I was still giddy from PADUCAH! So we wait and wait and then we wait some more. Then the gate agent announces, again, that our already late plane is going to be overweight and the carrier will be asking for volunteers to take a later plane. They will be giving a round trip ticket on United anywhere in the lower 48 states, along with a hotel room and meal vouchers for anyone willing to take a later flight.

A light bulb goes off in my head.  Maybe I should stay and get the ticket so Joe and I can take a fun trip. I just missed our 28th anniversary being in Paducah.  No, I can't do that - it's crazy.  This idea is too impulsive.  I need to get home.  Or do I?   I call Joe to tell him what's up. He says go for it.  So, I told Lyric I was going to stay.  She was also calling her husband.  She wants to give the ticket to her husband who wants to see his brother-in-law in Utah for a boys' adventure.  He has been home with their 5 children. Yes, I said 5.
She decides to stay, so we walk up to the agent and tell her that we're in.  We both know that just our suitcases are heaver than most. It's one of the fun aspects of being a quilt teacher, always having overweight baggage. The airlines must love us. We hug all our new friends good bye and promise to stay in touch, which I know we will.

Now our new adventure begins.  It's Lyric and me and 2 other gals, Terry from Florida and Karen from Michigan, our new traveling companions. We know they are nice people because they are quilters.

We decide to take advantage of the extra day in Paducah and start plotting the plan for our next day in the taxi on the way to our new hotel. There were a lot of things I didn't get to see because I was teaching or sitting on a bus most of my time here. So we meet in the lobby the next morning and take off for town. Karen knows where the bus stop is and we wait in a misty rain. I am sure this is not going to be a good hair day.  We board a city bus/taxi.  First stop, the artist studio of Helene Davis.

What a treat. She showed us her house /studio/ dyeing room, which Lyric and I were lusting over. It's decked out with 4 washing machines and 2 dryers. I bought some of her beautiful shibori fabrics.

Next stop was the tea shop, Serrina Tea (get it?), for lunch.   Bad news!  It had a closed sign in the window. I think I saw Lyric stomp her foot out of disappointment.  Then the door opened and out came about 15 or so Coast Guards. We sort of stood at attention. I then shot out proudly that my son is a Marine.  They shout back Semper Fidelis! They ask me if I know what that means.  Yes, I tell them, "Always faithful."  Then they ask me if I know what their motto, Semper Paratus,  means.  I say  Always hungry?  and they all laugh.  There motto is Always ready and they ARE!
While I was teasing the Coast Guard,  our new friend Terry had slipped into the tea shop and was inquiring about lunch. A small detail like a CLOSED sign does not stop Terry.  They invited us in and we had a private lunch and tea that was fabulous.  After lunch the owner showed us the ballroom upstairs with it's beautiful tin ceiling tiles. They are renovating this 1800's house that used to be the Elks Club during Prohibition, so you can guess what the elks where brewing down in the basement.  It was awesome.

But we are not done yet.  After lunch we walked the 6 blocks to Carol Bryer Fallert's Studio and Shop. We have called ahead and she invites us over.
She takes us on a tour of her house, studio, classroom even her to-die-for bathroom.  She has a collection of art quilts by some of the best quilters in the world  hanging all over her house.  It was amazing.  I loved the ceiling in her living room the most.

We are all looking at each other and are feeling the same thing. We can't believe we are doing this.  It's so unreal. Then, to top it off, she asked how we were getting back to the hotel.  We said,  the bus. She said Oh, no you're not.  I will take you back to your hotel.  So, we all hop into her minivan and - yikes - Carol Bryer Fallert is driving us home. I know, couldn't you just die?  As we floated out of her van, not one of us felt the ground under our feet.

That night we had dinner together and all knew we had just had a special day that we will never forget.

We talked like we had been friends forever, which was really nice.  I have been reliving that day since I got home. It was definitely the best part of my trip.
But it made me think about how many other wonderful experiences we are missing because we have to plan everything down to the last detail.  We make lists and MUST stick to the list.  We even get mad if the plans on our list get changed.
But, maybe next time your plans get changed you can try to look at it as a gift.  It might just be an opportunity to experience something new that you  might otherwise have missed.  Don't be afraid, take that chance.  Without taking a chance,  I would have missed a wonderful gift, wrapped up in an extra day in Paducah.