Category Archives: Family and Friends

Pictures and stories of our dear family and friends

Ft Myers Connections

Back in the mid ‘60’s a young college graduate came to stay at our house as she started a new job in the Philadelphia area. My Dad’s mother was her grandfather’s sister (or some such tenuous family connection), so of course my parents welcomed her with open arms.  She came for a week – and stayed for a year! And what a year that was! Even though I lost my bedroom to her, for this young teen having a cute, bubbly, sophisticated, twenty-something in the house was great fun!  I can’t guarantee my ‘remembering’, but I think she stayed with us until she married Ted and then she moved into a nearby community. She and Ted (and then their kiddos) stayed a part of our lives for many years, but as often happens, connections were eventually lost. Mom and Dad moved, we moved, life happened.  We connected again briefly in the late 90’s with the passing of my parents,  but before long we’d once again reverted to the occasional “I wonder what’s up with Josie and Ted?” remembrance.  Not too long ago that little thought resurfaced and I decided to do a bit of Facebook sleuthing. Much to my delight I located her daughter (now living in NYC) and contacted her (‘you might not remember me, but your mom lived with us for a bit last century!”).  She DID remember our family and shared that her mom was now living in Florida, as her dad had passed away several years ago.  This past weekend we were able to meet up with her, and while we couldn’t exchange hugs (ugh, COVID), our smiles were bright (though behind masks when appropriate) as we caught up with each other for the many years we’d lost touch. She had stories (“I remember the first time Gary picked you up for a date!”) and we had stories (“Remember when I borrowed your fancy hairpiece/braid to make myself look older?”). And then, of course, there was all the grandkid bragging. We only met for lunch, but what a grand lunch it was. Josie, we loved reconnecting with you – and pray that we will see you again next time we’re in the area. And hopefully that time there WILL be hugs!
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Back in the mid-70’s a young couple started coming to our church in Willow Grove. He was a medical student, and she a teacher. They lived nearby, were in their early years of marriage and hadn’t started their family yet. Just like us. We were fast friends before we knew it! By the time he’d finished up his medical training, we been through a fair bit of life together – birth of our daughter, an early miscarriage, and now we were both pregnant.  Their decision to set up a practice with a colleague (and friend) in Ft. Myers, FL, made us sad, but as we all know, life goes on! Thankfully, Gary’s mom also lived in Ft. Myers, so we were confident we’d manage staying in touch somehow or other! And we did – well, sorta-kinda! Thankfully, there are some friendships that weather the ‘sorta-kinda’ staying in touch better than others, and anytime we are in Florida we do our very best to invite ourselves over for a weekend!(Yes, we are THOSE friends!) Once we’re together, the years just fall away and it’s back to the wonderful camaraderie that we hold so dear. Jim and Sue – you know we’ll be back!
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UntitledIt’s probably been over 5 years since we’d heard from Gary’s older sister, Judy. We were pretty sure she lived in the Ft. Myers/Punta Gorda area, so last year and this year we made some attempts to contact her. There was never any estrangement, just a lack of communication.  She has had many health struggles over the years, and even her kids had not heard from her in several years. None of the phone numbers we had (or could find) were good.  But since we were in the Ft. Myers area visiting with Jim and Sue, we extended our visit and Gary and Jim spent Monday morning driving to different agencies to try and locate her. Last known address – no one had any info. Chamber of Commerce (looking for senior housing suggestions), no luck. Area police department – can’t help, but maybe the local Sheriff Dept can assist you.  The local sheriff was able to help – and in fact was familiar with her!  She was in a senior group home in the area (he could not disclose the name or location), and was able to contact the supervisor there to see if she would be willing to speak to Gary.  Sadly, she declined.  While he was disappointed that “it wasn’t convenient” for her to speak to him at this time, there is still peace in having located her, believing she is in a safe environment and that she knows that her family has reached out to her.  He left his contact information with both the sheriff and the supervisor, and we are hopeful that she will contact us in the future.

Connections. They are truly a treasured gift.  Our time in Ft. Myers included beaches and seafood and pinochle, but most importantly, it included precious connections.  And for that we will always give thanks!

 

 

An Even Dozen

Here are a dozen things I learned during our Sisters’ Winter Getaway –
1. Don’t be afraid to think ‘outside of the box’ when it comes to planning a Sisters’ Getaway. When we realized that our Winter Getaway was going to be in New England instead of Florida, we began searching the traditional vacation rental websites – VRBO and AirBNB. While we weren’t too particular about location, it did need to be within driving distance from Hanover, NH (for some doctor appointments already scheduled) and it also had to be handicap accessible. Oh, and fit our budget! Nothing was really thrilling us, and we had even begun to check out different hotel/motel/suites options. Good for the handicap part, not so great for the ambiance. In my searches, down at the bottom of the page was a link to Alton Bay Christian Conference Center in the Lake Winnipesaukee area. Hmmmm. Wonder what they might have to offer. There in the Facilities tab was a little sub section called Cottages for Rent. And under that heading was one cottage.
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While there was only the one exterior photo, the description sounded great, and there was, after all, a “D” on the exterior. (The owners probably thought it stood for their family names, but we were pretty sure it stood for Dwinell!). Joie contacted them to get some additional details,  signed the contract  post haste, and we were good to go. I cannot express how perfect this little cottage was for us. Everything, from the view of the lake through the pine trees to the grab bars in the bathroom, was like God had picked it out for us! (And I do believe He did!)
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2. Jigsaw Puzzles. There is no such thing as Puzzle Police. We enjoy doing jigsaw puzzles when we’re together– the conversation can continue and it’s a nice cooperative effort. Our first puzzle was a beautiful Vermont scene, but as we got further into it we realized we just weren’t that interested in all those fuzzy fall colored trees. When our rate of “piece finding” slowed to roughly 1 every hour, we decided to pack it up without completing it. (I’m happy to report our consciences were not seared and we were still able to sleep at night.) We like puzzles with lots of interesting things to find. Once we walked away from those evil trees, we enjoyed two other puzzles.
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Also – ALL puzzles work better when there is chocolate involved!
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3. It’s perfectly OK to have avocado toast for a late breakfast every day. It’s quite delightful actually! (We upgraded to some artisan bread after a couple of days – and that added a whole new level of deliciousness!)
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4. Eating two meals a day works just fine on vacation. Especially when Joie has brought all the fixin’s for homemade soup and rice pudding. And is ready to do the bulk of the cooking. (We’ve actually worked out a pretty good division of labor. Joie’s the main cook, Elna is the main dishwasher, and I’m the driver (and avocado toast maker).)
5. While I drink my coffee black 51 weeks of the year, when I’m with my sisters it’s coffee with whipping cream (none of that whimpy half and half for us!) all the way. We may or may not have gone through 7 pints of that liquid goodness during our time together (full disclosure – the rice pudding did use some too!).
6. All three of us are enthralled with watching birds at the feeder.
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Chickadees, tufted titmouses (tufted titmice?), nuthatches, a couple different types of woodpeckers, a pair of house finches, a lady cardinal, juncos, and (we think) a redpoll.
7. The squirrels were pretty fun to watch too!
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We got pretty innovative when it came to shooing them away, but I’d like to report that attempting to throw snowballs at them was less than effective. Though that could’ve been my terrible aim.
8. Meeting up with family is the BEST!!! We had a lovely lunch with Vermont family down in Keene and we’re so glad we could make the connection!
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9. Experiencing a Nor’Eastr during our time called for a little adjustment (changing doctor appointments to video calls), but all in all it was just a beautiful added dimension to our vacation.
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(Catch the snow INSIDE the bird feeder!)
Especially when our neighbor did such a stellar job of keeping us shoveled out!
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10. Lake Winnipesaukee is beautiful! On a crystal clear (and bitter cold) day we took a drive around the lake.
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All those huts are ice fishermen. Brrrrrrrrr
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Weir Beach – not so many fishermen here!

11. Waking up with no heat one morning was a bit of a surprise, but huddling together near the little gas stove while we waited for the service guy wasn’t a bad way to spend the morning.
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The furnace was up and warming by 9:30, and the homeowner was very thankful that we were there when it happened. It could’ve been quite disastrous had it happened while the cottage was unoccupied.

12. Spending time with these two women, whom I am so blessed to call both sisters and sisters in Christ, is precious beyond words. We are so thankful for husbands who understand that our hearts need these times, and for a gracious Heavenly Father who orchestrated this year’s Winter Getaway right down to the sesame seeds for our avocado toast garnish.
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Saying farewell is always hard
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but husbands and real life call us back. Until next time, dear sisters, we’ll keep on Zooming! Real hugs are better, but just seeing your faces each week does my heart good!

Sister Care

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If you’ve been hanging around here for long you know I have a very special relationship with my sisters. The older we get, the more precious is the time we can all be together. Last year we did a winter getaway in Pompano Beach at a lovely condo, loaned to us by a friend. The sisters came to me and it was great! This year, given the COVID situation and general health concerns, we’re all gathering at the other end of the sister line in New England. So here I sit, in the Orlando Airport,
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waiting for my flight to Baltimore. Once in Baltimore, I join Joie on the next flight to Manchester NH, where Elna will pick us up and the 2021 Sisters’ Winter Getaway will officially begin!
Instead of a condo we’ll be in this sweet cottage on Lake Winnepesaukee, NH.

One of my SOWER friends asked just what we’ll be doing. The answer is simple-loving each other. There will be games and puzzles, naps and sleeping in, laughter and tears, scripture and prayers.
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It’s a good thing!

Fair warning- while I won’t exactly be “out of pocket” for the next week, I will be delightfully distracted. So if it’s pretty quiet around here, I trust you’ll understand!

Our Thanksgiving Baby

Although Thanksgiving looks different for almost everyone this year, we still have so many  things to be thankful for, don’t we? I won’t list them all, but every seven years or so we get to celebrate not only our many blessings, but our special blessing of Hayley, who was born on this day 16 years ago! While she wasn’t born on Thanksgiving Day, we still consider her our Thanksgiving Baby!
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Today she is smart and funny and 16!!!! Oh, and did I mention quite beautiful too???  We don’t know what God has in store for you, dear Hayley,  but we pray that you continue to follow Him wholly in the days and years to come! We love you!!

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Happy 16th Birthday to our amazing Hayley! We are so thankful for you each and every day!
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Baby Things

Starting with grandbaby number one (back in 2003!) I started making two crib quilts for each baby. One was pre-birth and was made with heavy duty wear in mind. It was the ‘throw on the floor’ quilt that I hoped would gets lots of use. The second was constructed after the baby’s arrival, usually with lots of input from Mom. I still hoped it would get lots of use, but (in my mind anyway) was a bit more special. This past year we’ve had two additions our family – Deacon Wood arrived a year ago October, and Everly Quinn joined the family in early June.
Here’s Deacon’s pre-birth quilt –
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and here is Everly’s (we didn’t know she was a she until she was born, so I just went with bright!).
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When we were together with the families at the end of the summer I was able to steal away with the Moms to pick out fabric and patterns, and then I was good to go! Since Deacon was oldest, his got first priority. Abigail picked out some great fabrics and this was really fun to put together!
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So many triangles!!!

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You are such a hoot, Deacon!

Once I had a good start on Deacon’s quilt it was time to get started on Everly’s.  We’ve had a run on little boys lately, so it was especially fun to work with the pinks and greens and flowers….seemed like a while since I’d been working on those hues!
I was able to ship it up to Ohio several weeks ago, and it seems that Mom was pleased!
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And little Everly seems to be enjoying it too!
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What a little munchkin!!!

Making quilts for my grandbabies makes my heart happy! Each quilt goes to those little ones filled with love and prayers. But beyond the designing and sewing and quilting, what I truly treasure is the time I got to spend with my precious Daughters-in-love as we  planned out and shopped for each quilt. With all the busyness of family life, those excursions are too few and too far between, so I never want to take them for granted. I don’t know if there are any more grandbaby quilts in my future, but I’m pretty sure my quilting days aren’t over. Alexandra, aren’t you next for a bed quilt?