Thursday, September 22, 2016

Really Random Thursday, 9/22/16

It's been awhile since I've posted anything remotely random. Or posted at all, for that matter. So I'll try to catch up from the last few weeks.

According to the pictures on my phone, there is not much to report.

We officially celebrated Mark's retirement with lunch at a Fuddruckers in Modesto, CA, with good friends, George and Cheri. This is significant because over thirty years ago, over lunch at Fuddruckers in Fresno, Mark was approached about coming to work for a new cabinet company in town. So even though it was a different restaurant in a different town, the two meals seemed to bookend his thirty-year career in kitchen design and cabinet sales quite nicely.

And wow, do they make great hamburgers!
The second half of summer has been a difficult one for our family. My father suffered a stroke the beginning of August, which essentially completely took away his memory, to the point where two weeks ago, he was placed in a memory care facility. For those of you who have gone through this, we were completely unprepared for the speed at which my father's health changed, almost literally overnight. He went from driving the car, to not remembering anything. To this point, he still recognizes us, but that's about it. He doesn't like being where he is, but it's a lovely facility and he is being well taken care of.
Ruby and Gabe were over for the afternoon last week. And the weather was so nice that we sat outside. I even broke out my brand new box of Prismacolor colored pencils. For 4-year-olds. :)
What's the point of having someone take your picture if you can't make a goofy face?
After drawing some great pictures, they asked if they could use our phones and take pictures around the yard. You never know quite what you are going to get, but actually they are pretty good photographers, and it's fun to see things from their perspective.
Also, Gabe took this great picture of the two of us.

I've done some English paper piecing. Given my dad's health, I haven't had much time in my sewing room. But doing hand piecing has been good therapy.

However, I did get a bee block done, for our Spelling Bee block exchange. This month, Rachel is requesting words all having to do with honeybees.
I saw this in the pharmacy while standing in line to pick up a prescription for my father. Truth.
This is what my horoscope said a couple of days ago. I'm saving it in a new journal I have started for an exciting new project I will be beginning soon. That thing about wasting time...yeah, that's the hard part.
Hope your week is a good one.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Really Random Thursday, 9/1/16

Welcome to September, that time of the year when it starts to feel like fall.

Oh, wait. We live in Central California. We won't know that feeling until, well, maybe November...

In preparation for Mark's retirement, we had to buy another vehicle, as he had been driving a company truck for years. We bought a Subaru Forester. It has lots of great techie stuff that we are not used to.

However, we were not expecting this. A reminder about Mark's birthday.
That message flashed on the screen every single time we turned the car on for about two weeks.

And then on the day of his birthday, it changed to this message, complete with ribbon.
We love our car. :)

Maybe some of you know I collect Hard Rock Cafe t-shirts, which will eventually be blocks in a quilt, aka the most expensive quilt ever. With the exception of a couple of special editions I have collected over the years, all of the t-shirts are the classic white version.

Katy, who lives in Scotland, offered to get me one from Glasgow. I don't have it yet, but she sent me a picture. Isn't this awesome??! I think it will be the center block. I love it!

I've been working on my New Hexagon Millefiore quilt and I have finished all the pieces for Rosette 6. As I played around with them, I realized that by changing the orientation of the hexies around the center, the look changed dramatically. The pattern was written with the hexies oriented like this.
But for fun, I rotated them 180 degrees. I think I'm going with this version. I posted both versions on Instagram, and the one below was the overwhelming favorite.
Mark brought me flowers today. He felt like I needed a pick-me-up and that orange would do the trick. He was right about that.
And because I can't resist the Waterlogue app on my phone...
After much thought, my Kona color card has been cut into pieces. As my hands have been so sore lately, Mark did all the cutting. Wow, is it nice having him around now that he is retired. Being able to move the colors around sure makes quilt planning much easier.
I will be teaching a class in November on My Swedish Ex. The store where I'm teaching (Authorized Vac and Sew) puts out an amazing class catalog, where all the upcoming projects are professionally photographed. Here is my quilt. Such a cool photo!

I'm an introvert. But for many years, even I misunderstood what that meant.
But now I understand myself so much more.
And because Mark and I have had a lot of social gatherings on our calendar in the last couple of weeks, I have been drinking out of this mug a lot!

Happy weekend, everyone!

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Really Random Thursday, 8/25/16

This will be a short edition. There seems to be a lot going on but not much to show here.

On Mark's first day of retirement, last Friday, we did indeed go to the zoo and have coffee. He studied football rules for a bit while I did some English paper piecing. The view was fabulous.
I saw this in the newspaper. But I don't really think Mark is planning on using any of these signals.
At the end of May, we had our annual family pictures taken. I'll share more of them later, but here is a little teaser...
Tuesday was Mark's actual 65th birthday, and we celebrated at Aaron and Christa's, along with Jason, Jill and the girls. The "littles" wanted to help blow out the candles.
Since two rooms in the house belong to me--one as an office and one as a sewing room--we set Mark up in the spare bedroom. He seems happy to have his own space--complete with music, the laptop, a Starbucks mug for his pencils and pens from Minneapolis (which makes the Minnesota part of him very happy), and as of today, a cute little turquoise stapler (I'm sure he will be thrilled that I described it as "cute".)
While he was going through files, he found our engagement picture, circa 1972. I forgot how long my hair was in college...
Last night we did something atypical for a weeknight (before retirement) because of Mark's long work hours. We went to a baseball game. The weather was perfect.
Someone had even given him tickets to  the part of the stadium where someone comes to your seat and takes your food order. Carnitas nachos...yum.
I even did a little English paper piecing. What a fun evening.
And because I always like to end with some thoughts for the week...
Have a great weekend.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Finish It Friday: A Job Well Done

This is not a typical Finish It Friday post. It is not about quilts, although there just might be a glimpse of a quilt toward the end of the post. It's not about me, although I have been fortunate to witness the journey.

Rather, this is about my husband, Mark. Yesterday he retired from working in kitchen design and cabinet sales for the last thirty years, all for the same company.

First of all, in this day of fast food and short cuts and short attention spans in nearly every area of our lives, the thought that someone would be at the same company for thirty years is mind boggling.

When he started back in June of 1986, our son was 8 years old. And now our son has his own 8-year-old (and nearly 10-year-old, 5-year-old and 3-year-old!). In those first days, it was just two of them, Herb doing the office work and Mark out in the wild, cold calling, drumming up as much business as he could.
Those were the early days of frameless modular kitchen cabinets, and they purchased their cabinets from a company in Canada, Kitchen Craft. People told Mark and Herb that no one would ever buy modular cabinetry here in the Central Valley. Mark felt differently. And, in my humble opinion, he became the face of modular cabinetry in the Fresno area. He developed dealer sales throughout California. He was out of the house and on the road most of every single week during those early days, from the Los Angeles area to the Bay Area around San Francisco.

As Lowes and Home Depot opened up, the dealer market kind of dried up, as people would buy directly from the big box stores and often eliminate the middle man--the kitchen design dealer.

He was on the road less, at least out of town, as he developed relationships with all the local contractors in town--the ones who build the big tracts. He has worked with most of them for about 25 years. During that time, he also did countless remodels and custom homes as well.

He has earned customer loyalty because he has remained "old school." What do I mean by that? In this day when most employees work their job from 8 to 5, Mark went the extra mile, often going many extra miles. He was at work early and stayed late. He worked nights. He worked weekends. When customers, who worked full time themselves, could only meet him after they were off work, he didn't say, "I'm sorry. Our business closes at 5 p.m. And no, we are not open on the weekends."

He met them on their time schedule, no matter that it often meant putting in 50 to 60 hours of work per week. If you are in sales, that is what you do. You sell. You don't lose a sale because you are off the time clock.

He still found the time for his family, because they mean more to him than anything.
Mark is old school in so many ways. To him, "customer service" means you are serving the customer, solving their problems, making sure they are happy, admitting when the mistake is yours and not passing the blame to someone else. It means that you actively listen to what the customer is saying and then do your best to make them happy. It was never "That's not my problem. It's not my fault...."  It means you meet them in person, deal with them face to face, do your best to solve the problem.

For 22 out of those 30 years, he was a part owner. But whether he was owner or employee, he gave it his all.
Last weekend, Mark and I cleaned out his office. Wow, so many memories. I always made sure he was supplied with pictures of family, especially grandchildren who are the lights in his life.
We cleaned out shelves, took pictures off the walls, including these two quilts made by me that have been on his wall since 2001. These are actually two quilt blocks that I made and framed after deciding that the gorgeous border print that inspired the quilt below was not actually going to be part of the quilt.

Wednesday night, his coworkers held a party for him. It was fun. Laurel made him a fabulous cake that looked like kitchen cabinets.
They all autographed a cabinet door.
And gave him a certificate of retirement.
Yesterday at 4:30 p.m., I drove to the office to pick him up. For the first time in 30 years he no longer had a company vehicle. Or keys to the office. Such a weird feeling.
I had to wait a few minutes because he was finishing up an order. He literally worked to the very.last.minute.

And last night was his retirement dinner. It was a lovely evening. Dinner was delicious, from the spinach salad with fresh fruit and candied walnuts, to the halibut and risotto (me) and filet mignon (Mark) to the super rich chocolate dessert.
We were in a small, quiet room that allowed us to visit with everyone there--the owners (his former partners) and key coworkers, as well as Aaron and Christa.

Herb, Eyon, Will, Chris, Ivette, Mark, Lisa, Miguel, Scott

This is the family Mark has worked with for the past 30 years--the father, Herb, and two sons, Chris and Will. 
Chris, Katie, Herb, Joan, Mark, me, Chrissy, Will

The evening was filled with funny stories, from the first days of trying to get the business off the ground, to memorable clients and incidents that happened in the span of those 30 years.

I can't even begin to put into words how proud I am of this man I have been married to for the past 43 years. He is a man of high principles, integrity and a work ethic that now seems unusual instead of the norm. We have adventures planned...spending time drinking coffee in the morning, on a weekday at the zoo just because it's such a cool place,
  spending time with grandkids during the week,
going on a trip that has been on Mark's bucket list for ever--a cruise through the Panama Canal. He will keep busy with reffing and reviving his fused glass business. I will keep busy with quilting.

And we will enjoy spending extra time together. We have both been looking forward to this new phase in our lives with anticipation.  I can't think of anyone I would rather share that time with.