Archive | October 2013

Quilting Memories ~

This blue & white quilt is one of my favorites.

This blue & white quilt is one of my favorites.


We spent the day Saturday at my mother-in-law’s home in Pennsylvania helping to pack up the last of the remaining items before they move to Charlotte tomorrow. Although she has not been officially diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, her memory is all but gone. She can carry on a conversation in the present, but her mind is somewhere in the distant past and she continuously talks of “going home” and wanting to call her mother because her mother must be worried that she’s not home yet… my mother-in-law is 87.  She knows me and Al, and Al’s sister, Cheryl, who has been living with her for the past 8-9 years taking care of her.  But she no longer remembers any of her grandchildren or great-grandchildren.  She does not know/remember that her husband (my father-in-law) died earlier this year.  She is confused by all of the commotion the moving preparation has caused, and by the fact that all of their belongings are packed or sold, gone to the Salvation Army or come home with me and Al.

During our visit yesterday, I took it upon myself to preoccupy her with conversation while Al and Cheryl took the time to pack and load more things into the POD and our pickup truck uninterrrupted.  Our conversation went almost immediately to quilting.  Mom has been my mentor and greatest teacher of all things quilting.  She taught me all the basics, and encouraged me every step.  She used to belong to a quilt guild, and show her magnificent quilts all over Pennsylvania, and won awards.  She was even featured in a quilting magazine many years ago (we saved a copy).

There were still many quilted wall hangings on the walls of their home, and we chatted about them ~ she did not know what some of them were, nor who made any of them.  She did not remember/believe that she ever quilted, let alone all of the things I told her from my memories.  We chatted about the quilts she’d made her grandchildren, and the couple that I had made for her great-grandchildren (I didn’t want them to go without).  And she asked me if she had made any for me and Al, and, of course, we have many ~ some that she made, some that I have created.  She’d made one beautiful one for our daughter, Katie.  Towards the end of our conversation on that subject, she thanked me for telling her about all of the quilts and wall hangings she’d made, and the quilt guild etc.

My being a quilter now has prompted me to inherit many of the wall hangings, fabrics and other quilting items I’ve mentioned in previous posts.  In going through all of the many, many boxes of fabrics we have brought home recently, I discovered numerous “blocks” that were started and unfinished, that would make beautiful quilts or wall hangings.  I will be finishing those blocks along my continued journey into quilting.  I consider it a privilege to pick up where Mom left off.

It was with great sadness that we left PA Saturday to come home.  We’ve been driving down there at least once a month or more since Al and I married.  It will be extremely difficult for us to get to Charlotte… and I will miss seeing all of her wall hangings and quilts around that large house ~ there is no room for that in Cheryl’s condo (that’s why we took most of them).   But in my sadness, I can happily say that Mom has been the light of my life for two reasons especially:  she brought up her son the right way, and she taught me to quilt.  I have been blessed.

Thanks for stopping by.  Hope to see you again soon.  Until then, TTFN ~ Tamara Eckstadt

USAF Graduation ~

Every time I see dark clouds in the sky, and then the sun shining brightly through them, like I did this afternoon, whether it be just a small crack or a larger opening in the cloud line, I think of November 27, 1998.  Bear with me as I tell you why.

 Growing up, my two eldest daughters were very close to my parents, especially my father, who was the only father-figure they ever knew in their lives.  He taught them all the essential things:  how to make peanut brittle, homemade applesauce, etc.  Dad and Karalyn seemed to have a particularly strong bond.

 In her Senior year at Auburn High School, Karrie attended Air Force ROTC with the intention of making the Air Force her career when she graduated.  Despite the turbulence at home, she was very involved in her ROTC activities, had good grades and seemed very focused.  Her grandparents and I were very proud.  It was designed so that she would travel to Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, right after graduation and attend Basic Training there, as the start to her promising career in the military. 

 Starting in late August, Karrie would attend Basic and graduate just before Thanksgiving, and her grandfather could not have been more proud of her.  Karrie was so looking forward to coming home after graduation to share her graduation with him.  No one could have foreseen how things would progress before she would finally make it home.

 My father passed away on November 18, 1998, while Karrie was in the middle of finishing up basic training and taking exams.  I still remember the anguish in her voice, not only upon hearing the loss of her grandfather, but knowing that she had a choice to make:  either come home for the funeral, or graduate from basic … just a few days before her graduation ceremonies at Lackland.  I think we both knew the answer, but I had to confirm to her that her grandfather would no doubt want her to finish the beginning of her new career.

 Al and I flew out to San Antonio on Thanksgiving Day, November 26, 1998 to see Karrie graduate… only a very few days after my father had been buried.  It was going to be a “quick overnight trip” for us, just long enough to get out there, do a little on-base sightseeing, spend the night, see the graduation, then leave that same afternoon to come home.  Whirlwind!


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The weather was less than stellar on Thanksgiving Day, and the next day, on graduation day, it was cloudy and threatening rain the entire day.  The graduation ceremonies were conducted on a very large field, and guests were seated on bleachers, much like at a football game (I assume).  It was so overcast, and I was so certain it would open up and pour any minute as the ceremonies started with cadets/graduates marching and parading on the field in front of us.  I fought back tears (and still do when I think of it) as I thought of my dad, and how he would’ve liked to be there that day to see this.  I kept trying to focus on the processions and pomp & circumstance going on in front of us on the field.  It was difficult. 


Getting towards the middle of the marching ceremonies, as Karrie and her colleagues were marching very close to the bleachers, and were about to do an “eyes right” to the Commanding Officer, suddenly the skies opened up and down poured sunlight!  I stared, astonished, at the parting clouds and the sun shining through a separation that shone right down on just this group of cadets!  Just Karrie’s group!  And I knew.  My father and mother were watching, and God was behind them watching over their shoulders from Heaven, and they were all proud.  Yes, I burst into tears at that moment and I knew they were with us there.


I don’t tell this story to many, as I have been scoffed as coincidence.  But that’s okay.  I know.  Al knows.  I hope Karrie knows.


Karrie continued to begin her career in the Air Force, and was stationed at Elmendorf Air Force Base in Anchorage, Alaska.  However, she met and fell in love, then married a career Air Force Intelligence officer.  She soon left the active Air Force to be a stay-at-home Mom to three of my wonderful grandchildren, and an Air Force wife to a soon-to-be-retired from the Air Force son-in-law of mine.  They still reside in Alaska.


Thanks for stopping by and taking a look.  I hope you find inspiration in my story.  God is everywhere.  You don’t need to look for Him, he’s there… He’s right behind you, He’s got your back.  Believe it.


Until next time, TTFN ~ Tamara Eckstadt

Fall in Central New York ~

I have been remiss in keeping up regularly with my blog posts, so I thought something for fall would be appropriate, since it’s only a little more than a week to Halloween.

These first three photos are particularly “special” to me, as it depicts a long-standing tradition in the town where I grew up and went to school.  As a first, second and third-grader at Elizabeth Street School in Baldwinsville, NY, every year, a week or maybe two before Halloween, our art teacher and our elementary school teachers would gather us up and we would take a half day and walk “downtown” to paint/decorate the windows of all of the stores in town.  It was only the equivalent of a block or two, but it was a BIG DEAL to all of us youngsters to paint the windows and then see them again and again as we drove through town with our parents etc.  It’s nice to see that tradition still carries on in Baldwinsville.  This past weekend happened to be the “paint the town” weekend.

Window painting on the Seneca Federal Bank in Baldwinsville, NY

Window painting on the Seneca Federal Bank in Baldwinsville, NY

An alien witha pumpkin painted on the Seneca Federal Bank in Baldwinsville, NY

An alien witha pumpkin painted on the Seneca Federal Bank in Baldwinsville, NY

A young painter checks his work on the Seneca Federal Bank in Baldwinsville, NY

Another favorite activity of Al’s and mine is to visit some local apple orchards and pick out pumpkins, get some apples and see the fall sights.  

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And, with that, we’ve cleaned and put the cover on the pool for the winter, mowed the front,  back and side yards for HOPEFULLY the last time until Spring, and put all of the lawn and deck furniture away in anticipation of snow flying soon.  November is right around the corner, and all attentions for this household are geared towards Thanksgiving and then Christmas!

Thanks for stopping by and taking a look.  Hope to see you again soon!  Until then, TTFN ~ Tamara Eckstadt


Made to Crave: Down 20 Lbs.

I’ve met my first weight loss goal.  Earlier this week, I weighed in at 306, which is exactly 20 lbs. lighter than when I began at 326 on July 15th, 2013.  Now it seems “real” to me.   I’m thinking that can’t just be “water weight”… maybe I’m actually, seriously losing poundage.  This is a happening that has not occurred since 2001 when I lost some 45 lbs while training for the Kona Marathon for the American Heart Association!  Always, the scale has continued to rise.  Maybe I’ve turned a corner in my own life for a change!

I’m going to do it… what a lot of other weight loss enthusiasts are doing, which is taking “before” and “after” photos.  THIS is what I would consider BRAVE!  Way braver than just putting my weight out there!  But it’s a part of my determination and accountability for my weight loss.  Mind you, I’m not saying I’m going to POST such photos ~ that is currently beyond my bravery limit.  But, maybe, some time in the future.


But, I’m looking ahead and thinking of my Weight Watchers scale as my friend… good or bad.  I was introduced to a website called “FatSecret” and I signed on.  I really don’t like the NAME of it, but the content and stuff that it does to help me chronicle my weight loss journey is pretty cool.  Including a calorie counter, a journal, forums, blogs, exercise stuff, low calorie recipes etc. etc.  So far, I’m liking it.

So, that’s today’s update.  Looking forward to when I can report the NEXT 20 lb loss!  BTW, I had a checkup at my doc’s earlier this week and he was VERY pleased!  He even gave me a hug!  Also, all of my “levels” have finally begun to get better!  Cholesterol, sugar, yada yada yada… all that stuff.  I’m so happy, I’m in stitches!  (quilter’s joke)

Thanks for stopping by and checking in with me.  Would love encouraging comments, or even critical ones.  Either way, until next time, TTFN ~ Tamara Eckstadt

Michelle’s Weekly Pet Challenge: Week 2 ~

Thought I’d participate in Michelle’s Weekly Pet Challenge this week, after missing it last week.

My husband and I only have two non-human residents that allow us to live with them.  One dog and one cat.  First, I’ll introduce our beloved Golden Retriever.

Jammer at Lake Wallenpaupack

Jammer at Lake Wallenpaupack

Jammer is 9 years old this year, and he’s a gorgeous pedigree Golden.  He’s not a “pet”, he’s part of our family and treated as such (see the leash?).  I often joke about him being a “big dope” because he’s just such a lumbering ox around the house.  But we love him just the same.  TOTALLY afraid of thunder, lightning and wind (the forbearer of thunder & lightning), also fireworks.

Jammer takes a snooze in the family room.

Jammer takes a snooze in the family room.

His face wasn’t always this white (see above).  He’s getting to be an old man.  He gets up a little bit slower each day, can ‘t run quite as fast or as long when we take him along on bicycle rides, and doesn’t fetch quite as many times as he has in the past.  But he has his moments.

Thanks for stopping by and taking a peek.  Hope to see you again soon.  Feel free to leave a comment.  I’d love to hear from you.  Great challenge!   TTFN ~ Tamara Eckstadt