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End of March Madness

What a month! I think we could call it March madness but I’m not playing basketball. This week was one for the books. Our 4 year celebration started with rain so plans had to be changed from outside to inside. I knew we could work with whatever came our way. Marsha and Jerry arrived and set up her music system so we would have a PA system. Boy, did I think we were fancy. Then everyone started to arrive. Turlock, Placerville, Folsom, Sacramento, Concord, Stockton, Oakdale, Antioch, Brentwood, Gustine, Lodi and Chico – they came for miles.

We started the day getting quilts bound and labels sewn on then our Marine motorcycle group arrived for lunch – soaking wet – it was pouring. Only three riders made it but we all appreciated that they came. Hawk, their president, had set it up so we could award quilts and of course they had no idea. The first recipient just kept looking like I can’t believe this. The second recipient shook my hand so hard it hurt. These were definitely Marines. They didn’t say much but they posted pictures for our quilters. Marsha sang the Marine song she had written for DC – that got them – it was really cool to have live music in the shop.

After I went through some of our accomplishments for the last four years, Carl and Flo walk up and say, “You know for all you have done, we have something for you.” Flo pulls out an Army presentation case with my name and Carl proceeded to say nice stuff. Flo read letters from Barbara and Lynne would were unable to make it. The quilt is just unbelievable. All the love that went into it and the kind words everyone wrote. This is one very special quilt, not like any one that’s ever been done. It has a trumpet and an Eagle on one quilt – how cool is that!

Yes, everyone surprised me and yes, there were tears. When I think about it, it makes me smile and feel that someone does care. To all who labored to make it a labor of love, I will never forget. I feel very honored to have my own Quilt of Honor. We then had a great lunch. Dad Belmont made Portuguese beans and we had tons of food. Nancy made her very famous cake – a quilt pattern and inside was 4 different flavors of cake – it was so awesome! Everyone had a good day and headed home in the pouring rain.

My day wasn’t complete yet. It was time for me to change into my Honor Guard uniform and play Taps for a good friend, an Honor Guard member and strong supporter of Quilts of Honor. I can honestly say that by the time my day ended, it had been an emotional one. The next morning I went with the Honor Guard to the National Cemetery to again give my friend, Andy, his last honors.

Saturday, Debbie and I went to the Women’s Veterans event in Stockton’s Karl Ross Post and awarded a quilt to a 25 year old female veteran. There were 8 lady veterans in attendance – I could have used more quilts. Then we headed back up the hill for our Bunco fundraiser – what a night. We awarded a quilt to a good friend, a Vietnam veteran and one who never talks about it. I’ve always wanted to honor him but sometimes I’m slow. I can always call him and he comes to help – he is a very special guy and I hope he enjoyed being totally surprised and that he enjoys his quilt that Flo designed. We had 82 players for Bunco – a busy night but a good fundraiser. Thank you to all who came out – we always have fun.

So, what a month, but it was good madness. Thank you all from the bottom of my heart for your continued support and for my beautiful quilt. May we continue to grow together to support our mission.

God bless,
Gail

Workshop and 4 Year Anniversary Celebration

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Andy’s Quilt and Saturday Night Bunco

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We all made it home from DC and off the 4 of us went on a two hour drive to what we in California call the Bay Area, to Alameda for the Alameda Women’s Veterans event.  Quilts of Honor has been attending this event for 4 years.  I admire the women of the Twin Towers Methodist Church for taking the time to honor our women veterans.  We had a beautiful lunch and they gave away great gifts to the women veterans.  We awarded 6 quilts and I know each recipient was surprised.  In the last few weeks we have given more female quilts than ever before.  What I have learned is that the women are more stoic when receiving their quilts – you get a big smile.  Many responded with “this will hang on the wall.”  We had a small booth and raised some money which is always good.

Then we packed up and headed to the City.  Well, guess what – it was St. Patrick’s weekend.  We sat on the San Francisco Bay bridge for almost an hour – not my favorite thing.  We walked Union Square and decided to go into Macy’s for dinner – so did everyone else in San Francisco.  We rode the elevator up to the Cheese Factory only to be told there would be a 1 hour wait.  Since the Army and I don’t do good waiting, off we went.  After going up and down on the escalator (yes we did a U-Turn), we ended up at a Burger Bar with a view of Union Square.  They had the best burgers and skinny fries.  Our waitress was from Mongolia and when she saw my shirt she asked about Quilts of Honor.  Debbie, Flo, Barbara and myself tried to explain.  She left and then came back and asked more questions so I showed her pictures of the quilts on my phone.  We finished our dinner, and by now we knew her name, Gana came back with a paddle of milkshakes, their specialty, and said, “these are on the house.”  Here was a lady who has only been in our country 10 years and she got what we did.  That was a first for us.  Thank you, Gana.  We will never forget you!

We had a great day even though it was long.  We started out at 6:15am and got home at 10:30pm but we always have a full heart of giving.  March is Women Veterans month so on Wednesday I will attend another event an award a quilt.

Iwe have spent many hours together doing thousands of quilts, so now we will have to raise money for another one.  So my agenda is pack my friend up and say goodbye.  God always opens a door so we will see how in the next couple of weeks.

Remember we will be celebrating the 4 year anniversary of Quilts of Honor on March 26th.  We would love for you to come and have lunch and cake.

God bless, and – stay tuned.
Gail

Honors End

As I sat at the airport this morning waiting for the plane for our ride home, I was totally amazed at what we accomplished in 3 days.  We made connections for our Quilts of Honor Display at Mt. Vernon and awarded 10 quilts we didn’t expect to really award.

We stayed with our host family, Carl and Jeanine, who are really our family – they take us in at a moment’s notice and always amaze us with dinners, desserts and good fellowship.  Jeanine tries to keep us from getting lost in DC which has become quite a job – as you all know I’m the U-turn specialist.

Tuesday morning started with a meeting with a Mt. Vernon Quilt Guild member discussing how they could help for the quilt show.  Thank you Dianne for your time and being the POC.  Then, by noon my other two sisters arrived for our reception.  We visited, told old stories, and soon we were rushing to get dressed.  We all came downstairs dressed almost alike and it wasn’t planned.  I then honored my WAC band sister with a quilt.  Terri was in the Pentagon on 9/11 – that’s a little of her story – so many people’s lives changed that day.  I know she will treasure her quilt, she was pretty impressed.  Then of course, pictures were taken as we were in our best dress.

Our adventure began with a drive to the Metro station.  Thanks to Jeanine for giving us smart cards, all paid up, for our ride.  All 7 of us got on and it’s a good thing there was that many because when we changed trains you know we went in 7 directions.  We finally got to the Capitol Hill exit and walked into sunlight, then 7 move directions to get across the street.  We sure got a lot of looks – all ladies, most with gray hair, and all in suits.  After miles of hallways, we entered the event area.  Right away we were greeted by the event person and she said, “I will be your shadow; you need anything, please ask.”  We all saw our Commander who most of us had not seen in 40 years – it was kind of nice.  I was nervous as I was going to award her a quilt.  She was a Captain when I served and she retired as a Major General.  We didn’t waste any time.  We all gathered around her and I went up and did my thing.  She was overwhelmed.  She looked at me and then the quilt and asked who did this.  The First Sergeant said, “Gail does the stitching and runs the foundation.”  She said we all were going to make her cry and that we had to have pictures – it was pretty cool.

Then they called us all on stage and took our pictures.  When it was done, our Chief Warrant and Director awarded each of a coin she had made – so cool as you can see and it has a music lyre like we wore on our uniforms.

No one knew we would have quilts as the contact person did not connect with Major General McWilliams of the Army Women’s Foundation who was in charge of the event.  She had seen us give the first quilt.  A few minutes later she was shaking each of our hands.  Well, I had one for her so out I bring the quilt in the case and she says, “no”, grabs and holds me close and told me I was going to do this on the podium so we could get publicity.  I said, no ma’am; that’s ok.  Now I’m telling the General that it wasn’t a good idea and she said, “That’s an order.”  Guess who won.  I told her I had quilts for Veteran Congresswoman and she said she would signal me.  I’m thinking, holy cow; did I get myself into this one.  I kind of like it better when it’s planned.  My sisters were all cheering me on.

Originally we were told that Congresswoman Duckworth wasn’t coming, and then the General said, “you’re on; she will be here and I’ll call you”.  The quilt we were giving to Congresswoman Duckworth was Flo’s Purple Majesty.  Flo wanted her to have it as she is a double amputee.  They wheeled her in and then she used a cane to walk the stage.  I was on the other side of the stage.  Now mind you, there were Generals, Senators, high ranking everything Army present.  My signal come, I walk forward and I don’t even know what I said but I asked her to open her quilt.  Because of her cane, she couldn’t get her balance so we did the best we could.  I really didn’t know how she felt as I was really taken back by the injuries of this veteran.  She refused to retire after her injury and she still serves in the National Guard.  She fights for our rights – now this is a soldier.  I was humbled and honored to award her this quilt as she continues to fight.  Barbara was in the audience and she cried to see Purple Majesty go as we all loved that quilt and so wished Flo could have been a part of it.  I did tell the Congresswoman that a Vietnam widow of a double amputee made the quilt but don’t know if she got it.  The pictures show she is happy and my sisters reported she was taken by it.

Then came the 14th Women’s Army Corps Band, the last all female band and longest serving female band’s time to be honored.  They called our General up and she presents this pretty cool looking glass statue to our director.  Jeannie, Chief Warrant Officer, accepts then they call our names and we have to stand up.  Everyone is clapping and the General tells us to come on the stage – holy cow, here we go again only this time I was with my sisters.  I was being honored for my Army service in the band – it doesn’t get any better than that.  They gave each of us a bag and when the General dropped one, man was there a clunk so all I knew was whatever was in the bag was heavy.  Then they gave us a standing ovation.  We were celebrities.  They lined us up on the podium, took pictures, then they brought in women currently serving in the Army band at Fort Myer to show the old and new – it was like were something.  An Army band member sang the National Anthem and I want to tell you, the windows rattled – it was amazing.  We drank water out of wine glasses, ate fancy finger food, and I was careful not to mess up my suit.

I went on stage two more times to present quilts.  When I presented to Congresswoman Gabbard, I new she was honored.  She showed the quilt for all to see and when we came off the stage, she hugged me and said she was honored.  Well, that’s a first for me – never been hugged by a congress person.  Congresswoman Gabbard served in Iraq and led her troops into battle.  All the times I was on the stage I never said who I was – it wasn’t my place.  I knew how deserving these ladies were.  Of course you know I always have to say something so right before I left the stage the second time I said, “and I’m one of the WAC Band members” and everyone yelled and the General gave me a thumbs up.

My last presentation was to Major General McWilliams – what a lady for what she has done for women in the military and what she continues to do now.  She knew she was getting a quilt but she played if off and we ended the evening, I just pushed my way up again and handed her the quilt.  We had to do pictures again.  My cheeks were hurting this morning – we had so many.

After the event we all decided to go eat and this time we gained our General – no way could we eat without her.  She rode on the Metro with us and off to the restaurant we went.  Really, we followed her just like in the day.  It was amazing how we fell in line.  We had a great dinner and then that mile high ice cream.  The icing on the cake, the General bought our dinner.  I teased Barbara and told her she could brag that an Army Major General bought her dinner.  My sisters have adopted Barbara.  If she wasn’t finding stuff for me, she was for Rennie and Terry.  She even saved Rennie’s award.  They asked her 80 questions and she must have won them over as they invited her to come to the reunion.  They watched her sew labels, get quilts ready – hope we didn’t wear her out – we are a one of a kind group.

We got on the Metro to go home and some departed in different directions.  Each time we stopped, all hugging and saying goodbye.  We arrived at our host home and there was Jeanine’s waiting at the door so she could hear the scoop and of course all of us were talking at once just like kids.  Finally we all said we had better go to bed.  Barbara and I got packed and before long we were both back upstairs visiting in our PJ’s, even Jeanine.  We will be together again in October 2014 and then there are more of us – look out.

Oh, what was in the bag – A small glass statue with Women’s Army Corp and Pallas Athena (Goddess of Truth).  None of us opened our bags until we got home all together at our host family.  We were all impressed.

As I close, I would say that Quilts of Honor was again given a gift by being able to be a part of this event that wasn’t planned for us.  How do I feel about all this?  God blesses me more than I deserve.  I am thankful for everything he has done for me and Quilts of Honor.  I am very proud to be a member of the 14th Women’s Army Corps Band who is now in the HALL OF FAME.

Thank you all at home for holding down the fort.  God bless,
Gail

End of the Day in DC

Today’s event was one of a lifetime for me and the other members of the 14th Women’s Army Corp Band.  Not only was the Band honored but I was able to award our quilts throughout the ceremony. There is so much to tell but since it’s midnight here in DC and we have to get up at 5:30am to make our flight, the story will have to wait until tomorrow – I’m off to bed.

God bless everyone,
Gail

Busy Day and Great Night

Today began with overcast skies but the sun started shining by noon.  Had a good meeting of the minds for our up-coming quilt show.  Now the planning begins – QOH family, we will be busy.

My 1st SGT.  arrived so the celebration began.  Jeanine made a great dinner as always and I’m sorry Debbie and Flo missed out on homemade scones, strawberries and cream.  Even Barbara ate desert.  My Women’s Army Corps sister and trumpet player came to dinner – little did she know what I was going to do.  My sister sat next to me in the trumpet section of our band at the concert reunion and retired from the military.  She has helped me in so many ways so I honored her tonight and gave her a Quilt of Honor that Dolores made.  You can see by the pictures she was very surprised.  We spent the evening visiting and planning our day.

To our sisters – wish you were here.  We are taking the Metro tomorrow to our event – the other three have never taken the Metro – this could be really interesting.  To Willene, Flo and Mom at home, thanks for holding down the fort and for shipping the quilts.  With God’s help, this will all work out.

Stay tuned for tomorrow.  We are so excited to receive this honor.  We have a bond that will always be told and be in the Women’s Army Hall of Fame.  The Honors will reside at Arlington at the Women’s Museum – very cool as there is a quilt there.

God bless,
Gail

PS:  Doesn’t this desert just look awesome!

Scones, Strawberries and Cream

Scones, Strawberries and Cream

Quiet Day in DC

Today was a different day for us.  After a nice morning, we all looked at each other and said, “let’s take a nap.”  So, off to our rooms we go.  I got under my blanket and closed my eyes but they didn’t want to sleep – I really tried.  Finally I got up and at the same time Barbara comes out of her room and says she couldn’t sleep either so we both gave up.  We actually had a quiet afternoon and decided Jeanine, our family host, needed a night off so we went to Old Town Alexandria for dinner at Chadwick’s – great food.  I decided to have fried chicken, mac and cheese and sweet potato fries.  Well, they goofed up the order and brought me 2 mac and cheese.  I couldn’t eat it all so one came home, bowl and all – that’s another story – but I was a happy camper.

We came home to prepare our quilts for presentation.  Barbara was getting them ready and Carl says, “I don’t see Gail working.”  Barbara says, “there are some things we don’t let Gail do – this and cutting fabric – we keep her on the Longarm.”  Guess they all know I don’t have many talents.

It has been nice to just rest but boy did I get anxious.  We did do some brainstorming and I have two more meetings this week for Quilts of Honor.  First Sergeant called in and will be here tomorrow so I have to shape up.  Looking forward to our honors on the Hill and being with my sisters in arms.  We have 6 quilts with us and have shown them off – everyone remarks how beautiful every quilt is and how they are one of a kind.

So, for now, I will close and hope you all have a good Monday.  God bless, stay safe, and don’t cut your fingers with the rotary cutter.

Gail

Hi everyone.  Enjoying the view of the Potomac from the front porch.  It’s so early that the sun doesn’t want to come up.

View from the porch

View from the porch

We arrived in DC to no snow which is hard to believe after the winter they have had.  We went to get our rental car and at 11:00pm the place was pretty much empty.  I arrived at the counter, filled out my paperwork and the lady said we had an economic car and would we like to upgrade.  I asked if it would cost more and when she said yes, I told her no thank you, we would be fine.  She told us to go to Aisle C and pick out any car with keys.  Now, it is really dark so I go to the only two cars in the lot – two puddle jumpers.  I drove back to pick up Barbara, who was staying with our luggage, and she says, “OMG, you sure you don’t want to upgrade?”  The luggage barely fit in the backseat.  We started out the drive way and of course I went in the wrong direction – first u-turn but the only one for the night – amen.  We arrived at our home for the next few days around 12:30am.  It was a short night as on top of a late flight, we had to set our clocks ahead an hour.

This morning we went to church where George Washington’s funeral was held.  As we were leaving we saw the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier from the Revolutionary War with a beautiful flag.  Then, off to my favorite bakery for breakfast.  We will think about a nap today if we can squeeze it in.

Stay tuned – have a great Sunday Morning.  God bless,
Gail

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