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What a beautiful Saturday to spend honoring our Fallen and Veterans with a ceremony held in the Ione Veterans Memorial Park. There were flags everywhere and a huge flag over Main Street and the Memorial Park.  Today was the 10th annual Walk for the Troops.  It was started by Robyn Ornsby who lost her son in 2007.  What a great honor to be a part of such a patriotic honoring event.  The town of Ione has a spirit that is true American.  The Boy Scouts raised the flag, they sang the National Anthem, had a 21-gun salute and Taps and ended with bagpipes playing Amazing Grace.

Then began the Parade.  Must have been 200 bikes roaring their engines leading the parade.  Behind them came these beautiful horses all dressed in patriotic outfits.  I don’t believe I have ever seen such beauty.  As we waited to start our turn, we were standing under the largest Flag held from a fire truck (no phone to take a picture).  I was walking with the Honor Guard which was behind the Sheriff’s Honor Guard.  So here was the problem – I am the last one in line, my legs being a little short,  I think I was running after them all the way up the hill.  There was no way I wasn’t going to keep up.  Boy, did I huff and puff.  As we got to the end of the parade, there was the line-up of horses and all the bikers saluting us.  I felt so honored.  The QOH crew started their walk together behind us.  It was quite a walk but we did it.

When we got to the event, we found our table and could hardly wait to have BBQ.  It smelled so good.  We asked Roberta Taylor, a Gold Star Mom, to join us.  They called us first to eat.  We had barely sat down when the crew got to go their food and came back to the table when we had to start giving quilts.  We all left our plates to do our thing.

First veteran, Jake, said “you are going to make me cry.”  Everyone we gave quilts to were so surprised and had never heard of Quilts of Honor.  I got quite a few hugs and the crew did too.  We all got our pictures taken with Patrick who has a grandmother who is 99 years old an Army Nurse in WWII, another quilt.

Flo and Willene won raffle prizes.  Flo’s was a wooden bar we needed help to carry.  Ralph, a Vietnam veteran, got nominated by his wife.  As we were walking to the car I am drilling him on his service.  So guess what.  Out came a quilt for him.

I really want to thank the QOH crew, Debbie, Flo, Diana, Judy, Willene and Jan.  We all enjoyed our day together and met many new people.  We thank Robyn for letting us be a part of such a great event.

God’s blessing
Gail

What a time we had in four days in Nebraska.  Our last day was a full day, too.  We drove from Holdrege back to Omaha and got to see the sun rise over the prairie.  Always makes me thank God for his beauty.

We stopped at the Nebraska crossings as we still haven’t gotten all this luggage mess right and cousin Sue got us straightened out.  She travels for her volleyball and has it figured out.  We can’t thank her enough for driving us everywhere, showing us the sights, and explaining so much more about Nebraska.

We gave out our three quilts during our last day, got to tour St. Matthew’s Catholic Church that our cousins attend.  This church was built in the last 5 years – it is beautiful.  We spent a little time sitting on the front porch at Sue’s.  The weather was like a spring day and we even saw a red cardinal in the back yard.  Plus, we had ice cream at Calvers Custard – you know we were happy campers with that.

Our last night we headed to St. Matthew’s to attend Women Working for God meeting where I was to speak.  They had their business meeting then we had great homemade snacks. Sue introduced me and we both had decided to start a little different.  We called our veterans up one by one an awarded them their quilts.  We were awarding 4 women veterans and they had no idea of what we were doing.  The first was the President.  She told me after she had some idea but she was speechless after receiving her quilt.  The second said she couldn’t believe it was happening.  The third had tears in her eyes the minute I took her hand.  The last one, you can see her hand on her heart she was so taken and surprised.  What a blessing to give to these women veterans.  When I spoke I said that I am always honored to award to women as I know they are forgotten.  They asked if we could take pictures together which I feel is always an honor as I know they all sacrificed in different ways.  It was a great end to special days in Nebraska.

I loved being able to meet our Chapters in Nebraska and Kansas.  I think of how each one fits into our QOH family and I hope I can visit them again someday.  We loved the little town of Holdrege and the Nebraska Prairie Museum.  If you ever get a chance to see it, it is so worth the drive.  It was also great to spend time with Cousin Sue – Flo said we two are so much alike.  We are distant cousins but obviously some blood in there that makes us alike.  I am proud our families can still connect and Sue will now help us in Nebraska when needed.

Thank you to all that helped us to feel comfortable.  We love Nebraska.  Until next time . . . . . . .

God’s Blessings
Gail

Trip from Holdrege to Omaha

Today was part travel to get back to Omaha.  Then our mission was to award some quilts to a couple of inbound Vietnam veterans.  Our first was Dennis, 28 years in the Air Force  and as he said it, “I know my butt checks were left in Vietnam rom all the bombing.

Our second was to Stuart, 20 years Air Force retired Vietnam veteran that lived next door to my cousin Sue.  Both veterans were affected by agent orange. 

Our third quilt of the day was to cousin Jim, a retired Air Force Major.  I was grateful to be able to honor all three men.

Tonight, I will speak to a women’s group and surprise some female veterans.  So stay tuned for more adventures . . . . . . . .

God’s blessings
Gail

Boy, did we have the best day.  We started at 7:30am from Omaha with my cousin Sue driving and me being the copilot.  We knew that it was Sandhill Crane migration and Sue was game to drive any back road to make sure we could see these birds.  We stopped at Crane Trust outside of Grand Island and they had beautiful buildings explaining all about the birds.  When we got to that area it was very windy and cold, real different from yesterday but as you drive south it gets colder.  Sue drove us down so many back roads I know we are related.  We followed those birds all over.  I had my camera but not my big lens.  I still had a great time trying to get pictures of the birds.  I sold jump out of the car the win almost knocking me over and freezing wind just to get a shot.  Sue and Flo were my spotters.  We all really loved seeing the birds.  We stopped for lunch at Runza – we love that place only in Nebraska.

We got to Holdrege just before 2pm. The gathering was to be held at the Nebraska Prairie Museum. I can’t say enough about that Museum. It was spotless and so many different exhibits and collections. We didn’t have enough time to see it all. The Nebraska Chapter has some of their presentations in the Military room which I took pictures for you to see. We were met by the Kansas group leaders, Judy and Sandy, and the Nebraska group leaders, Alice and Janet. It was so great to meet the ladies and put faces with the names. They had homemade cookies and coffee and they were homemade yummy cookies. We took pictures together and enjoyed each other’s company. Alice gave us a tour of the Museum and then when we finished, we got checked into our rooms and off to dinner with Alice, Janet and Marilyn at the Blue Vine. We had a great dinner. Thank you to the Nebraska group for dinner and great company.

After dinner Sue drove us around town so we could see many of the bronze statues throughout the city and the Veterans Memorial.  We saw so much of Nebraska today, not only the sights but the hearts of the people that live here.

We truly enjoyed our QOH Family in Nebraska and Kansas and hope to one day come back.  I may have to add to our stories later as I can’t think anymore.

Stay tuned . . . . . .

God’s blessings
Gail

Nebraska Tour

We were slow going Sunday morning as we adjusted to new time and Daylight Saving Time.  Our first stop was Green Bean Coffee not knowing it supported troops and their families during OEF.  Kind of amazing of all the coffee places we end up there.  We then rode around just seeing what Bellevue Nebraska looked like.  At one time it was country outside the limits of Omaha.  Jim, our cousin, came and got us and babysat us until Sue, our cousin, got home.  He took us to the Holy Family Shrine which was amazing.  Made out of wood and glass.  What a story about this Shrine.  You can see it off of Interstate 80 – you build it and they will come.  The spiral sculpture has water that drips down into a small pond that runs down to the Shrine.  It is all pretty amazing to see.  Down the hillside are the Stations of the Cross.

We left there and headed to Offutt Air Force Base where Jim worked. Really nice Base.  At one time it used to be Ft. Crook Army Base so that’s why it was okay.  Jim also took us to Omaha’s new National Cemetery.  It is quite big and hardly busy like California’s.

Jim dropped us at the hotel se he could get Sue from the Airport.  She does BIG volleyball tournaments all over and had been in Denver.  They took us to the best Italian steak house.  You got baked potato and pasta with your steak.  We also had fried ravioli for the first time.  Leave it to Nebraska to have the best food.

Sue then took us to downtown Omaha to see the walking bridge between Nebraska and Iowa.  It was all lighted up in red.  Downtown had their trees lit up with white lights – it was beautiful.  We then went to Ted and Wally’s for homemade ice cream.  I mean they made ice cream like we all used too.  The line to get in the place was crazy but so worth it.  I thought of
Dad and Delphia – they would have loved the Ice Cream.

We can’t thank Jim and Sue for hauling us around showing us so much in a short time.  Monday we go see our QOH Family in Holdrege and our Philips County QOH family.  It is a long drive down Interstate 80 but I know we will be making stops.

My funny for today was we drove to this Fontenelle Forest where they have birds.  We drive up and Flo says, “Oh look, there are some right out front.”  We get out of the car, I have my Cannon Camera getting ready to shoot these birds and they are statues – not even real – and you know I laughed at Flo and she said she knew it was going in the Blog.  Can you believe no picture?  Never dull on our adventures.

Stay tuned . . . . . . .

God’s blessings
Gail

January 2022 – We Are Off

Well, we didn’t let any grass grow under our feet as we started a new year.  On January 4, 2022 we presented our first in-person quilt presentation at the San Joaquin Building Trades Counil.  I spoke then presented a quilt to a very deserving OIF Army Veteran.  It was so great to see all of his workers stand and applaud him.  He turned to all of them and that this was such an honor to receive and he would one day be handing it down to his son.  He was fighting back tears.  Nick has helped start a group called Helmets to Hardhats for veterans so I bet this won’t be the last we see of Nick.  We also want to thank San Joaquin Building Trades Council for coming to our Crab Feed and supporting us.

On January 11, 2022 we attended the Linden Lions Club where I spoke and awarded their president and 2 tour OEF veteran a quilt.  Kurt is also Fire Chief in Linden.  He told us how we had mailed a quilt to his father in another state and his dad treasured that quilt.  Kurt’s voice then started to crack as his dad had recently passed and would be buried in a national cemetery.  Kurt said, “I get what these quilts mean.”

On January 15, 2022 we held our Crab Feed, one of our big fundraisers and, no, I didn’t eat crab.  We also serve Trip Tip but they did have nerve to set a tray full of crab right in front of me.  Needless to say I was gone out of that seat in minutes.  We had a pretty good turnout considering we are still in COVID.  We started with the Pledge of Allegiance, then I had my adopted sis, Jeannene and Jeanie come up to the stage and we all sang God Bless America.  It was so cool, just like we had rehearsed it even though we hadn’t.  We then called up 5 veterans we had gotten to our event with no knowledge of receiving a quilt.  One veteran, Dennis, a Vietnam veteran had heard about the crab feed and came.  I had secretly gotten his name and called him up.  When I gave him his quilt he had big tears.  Our young veteran, an OIF Marine, came with his fiancé, one of our generous donors had given them tickets so he had no idea he was going to receive a quilt.  Two of our veterans were from Valley Springs and if finally worked out that I could surprise them.  After we finished with the guys, I called up Jenny, a female Coast Guard veteran, who came from Stockton for the crab feed.  We surprised her also and the best part – she is a quilter and wants to help us.

Soo n as we finished our awards we started the feed – salad, pasta, crab, and trip tip.  When the crab came down the table guess where they sat the tub of crab – right in front of me, the person that doesn’t eat fish and did I tell you crab stinks?  It wasn’t seconds before I was out of that chair.  The table seemed to think that it was pretty funny.

We had a dessert auction that was a killer.  Gary, our local supervisor got $260 for Mo’s cake that the girls bought for me as a surprise.  It is all red, white and blue.  We are all going to enjoy it in February.  Debbie’s famous Harvey Wallbanger cake made over $200.  It was an awesome dessert auction.  The bar was so busy Andy and Jeannene hardly got a break.  Then Ruthie, one of our volunteers played the 50/50 game and the winner got $680.  Boy, was he a happy camper. We ended the evening with a raffle of over 30 plus gifts that Willene and Jan had made look spectacular.

The work it takes to put one of these on is unbelievable.  So many of our volunteers helped us and I can’t thank you enough, every one of you that came a distance to attend and volunteer to help.  We have a great team and that is why we do such great events.  You all put your heart into it just like you do for the quilts you make for our veterans.

So far, January 2022 has started with a bang.  May the year continue.

God’s blessings,

Gail

Merry Christmas Quilts of Honor

Merry Christmas

This time of the year always brings memories of Christmas past.  Just recently we had a trip to Nebraska and saw an antenna with a red light on top.  Flo asked what it was and I told her when we were kids we all went out to my Aunt June’s house on Christmas Eve and waited for Santa Clause.  They would put us in the bedroom and there was one of those antennas down the road with a red light.  Our folks would tell us that it was Rudolph.  Of course we believed them.  Then, we would hear outside the door, Ho Ho Ho, and a bunch of noise.  Our folks would tell us to come and see that Santa had come, and out we would come to see presents.

I also remember all my Christmases when I was in the Army.  The first one I came home in my uniform into the San Francisco Airport, not a good thing in 1969, but seeing my family was Christmas.  Being away from home, especially when you are many miles away, makes you more homesick.  We all would play Christmas music wanting to go home for Christmas.  We were lucky that our Unit usually got two weeks leave but not those who were deployed to Vietnam.  Even today I know there are many veterans with their memories of Christmas while serving.  My thoughts go to those who are serving today and pray they all come home safe.

I am thankful and grateful we all at Quilts of Honor get to give a little of Christmas every time we give a quilt.  We often are told you need to pay it forward.  Well, we do that in so many ways.  Every volunteer for Quilts of Honor has a giving heart.  The hours so many put in to complete our mission is so honorable and I am proud of each one of you who help us to continue our mission.  It takes a Village.

May you all have a Blessed Christmas

Gail

What a long, special day.  We started at 7am from home.  Debbie, Diana (my sister for those who don’t know her), Flo and me the driver, and Rue in the back seat.  We left early since you never know with traffic in the Bay Area and with 4 women you know there will be pit stops.  We had a nice ride and arrived early. It took us just a few minutes to decide to go shopping in downtown Santa Cruz.  We saw a shop that said Sock and Shoe Company and you know we went in there.  I’ve never seen so many socks, shoes and boots and yes, we came out with some.  When we finished there, we were right across the street from the Veterans Memorial building so we unloaded our bags and headed in.  It was a beautiful day, the sun was out, and we didn’t even need a jacket.  We couldn’t believe December 17th on the coast and no jacket.

We got there in plenty of time to prep our quilts and many of the veterans were already arriving.  They didn’t know why they were summoned.  We hid the quilts behind the curtains on the stage.  We started our ceremony with the Pledge of Allegiance and Jim, USMC veteran and my Point of Contact for the group, introduced me so we could start.  Jim called the veterans up two at a time. Most of them took the quilt and looked at both sides.  One veteran kept showing the back and the crowd was yelling at him to turn it around – that was pretty funny.  We had pretty much each era of veterans and one female veteran, Lois, a Korean veteran, 94 years young and I mean this veteran you would never guessed at 94.  One of our last veterans was the youngest but had been, at one time, homeless and just recently became a dad and now has a full time job working at the veteran’s hall.  We did miss one Marine veteran and I presented on the floor of the Hall who was Commander of VFW for the past 6 years.  We had Santa Cruz Sentinel, Jessica, attend and take pictures and we made their paper December 17th before we got home.  That was pretty cool.

When we finished the ceremony, Jim took us to lunch at Café Marie Italian Food.  It was delicious and we enjoyed spending time with Jim.  We have worked together numerous times honoring veterans.  We finished our lunch and followed Jim to a Care Home where we could present Fran his quilt.  When we arrived we met some of the other veterans that came to support Fran and see him get his quilt.  It was so great to see the bond our veterans have for each other and how they love to share their quilts and the experience of receiving one.

We said goodbye to all and asked Jim for directions to the beach he said follow me take off at the exit Rio Del Mar so down the road we go I kept asking Debbie the navigator what road Del Mar Rio after a few times me not saying it right Debbie says very plain and almost spelling the exit RIO DEL MAR and we all started laughing I think I had pushed her patience to where she was explaining to a 5 year old.  We did find the beach and took our picture for Rita who we have a joke with about feet in the ocean.  The picture will show shoes to darn cold in California Ocean.

We headed home a different route as traffic on Friday nights is not so good.  We came home by CasaDeFruta on Hwy 152 which has been famous for years to travelers on that road.  We pulled up and parked right in front and went in.  Of course we bought stuff, Carmel apples, popcorn, dried fruit, you name it they got it.

When we returned to the car I was standing in front when a gentleman gets out of his car.  He walks right up to me, says hello and hugs me.  I’m like who is this guy.  He had a Vietnam veteran shirt on and I’m thinking did we give him a quilt and I didn’t remember.  He then says, “I want to thank you for what you do.  I heard about you.”  We keep him talking and his wife is with him.  I tell Flo to get one of the extra quilts in the car.  She brings it out and we present it to him.  He starts to cry and says, “I didn’t expect this.”  His wife, her mouth fell open.  She is taking pictures as we get his information on the back of the quilt.  He then says, “Let me give you a donation.”  We said we don’t do it for that and he hands Diana $50.00.  I told him this was his welcome home and he replied that no one welcomed him home.  I told him we just did.  The wife said we had made his year.  Flo told me, as we were getting in the car, “that you always know when to honor them.  I said I’m just a little on the crazy side.”

We headed home and we all said what a perfect day.  We had beautiful weather and we had quite a mission.  We were home almost the same hour we started 12 hours later.  Today, Lou, my Veteran brother and Larry, both Vietnam veterans, presented 5 quilts in Stockton to veterans who had been homeless and were going to their own place and job.  We were proud we could honor so many veterans, especially during this holiday season.

Looking forward to seeing some of our volunteers on Tuesday for Open House.  Stay well and keep quilting.

God bless

Gail

Nebraska Is Special

We had a very good time even with snow and 27 degrees.  We spent Sunday seeing a few things we wanted to see around Elgin, Nebraska.  We first went to Percy’s, our cousin, to see the farm.  He and his son, Ray, farm soy beans and corn.  We took a picture of the Ranger hot rod Percy (90 years young) rides around the farm.  I would love one of those, so would Rue.  Then off to the farm shop.  Lordy, those John Deere Tractors were huge.  Flo stood next to one and she looked like a midget.  Connie, my cousin, and Flo decided to get in one.  I wish I would have taken a video of them trying to get up the steps into it.  I almost had to shove Flo up from the behind.  They finally made it and you can see the picture of them both.  I think it was their bucket list.  They had two old tractors from day one that used to run on propane  There was some pretty cool old stuff in that shop.  It’s a good thing we weren’t driving home to California.  They heated the shop with some special heater that used oil.  When neighbors changed oil in their cars, they gave to the shop – pretty smart.  We especially thought the bottle of black velvet kept the workers going in the shop.  We walked around the property and saw an old Ford truck, old as the hills, and the one barn was really Percy’s old schoolhouse he relocated to his property.  Rue ran around in the snow as she was a little more used to it.  Lots of memories there.

We stopped at the cemetery to see those who have went before us and I loved that they had a windmill and flag standing right in center.  We left Percy’s, said goodbye to cousin Connie and went to cousin Ray’s to see his farm two miles down the road.  Ray had the oldest barn and so cool looking.  Peggy, his wife, had 5 miniature donkeys so of course we had to check them out and the barn cat that was playing on the hay stack.  It was so great to spend some time with cousins and reconnect.  They were all so gracious to us.  Everywhere in Nebraska people are like that.  All the guys opened the doors for us at different stores and everyone said good morning just like America used to be.

We then decided to head to see our friend, Deb, who works in Aurora, Nebraska t the Edgerton Explorit Center.  That place was amazing.  It is a science center for kids and had so many things for them to do.  They bring buses of school kids and teach them about science.  Deb started a program about birds and has three she takes to schools and shows them.  We got to go in the cages and see the birds up close.  We even petted the screech owl and the feathers were so soft.  The Swanson Hawk was so cool and dignified.  Deb is very brave to have tamed them.  They have broken wings and can’t be out on their own now.  We also stood in front of that Ferris wheel that Joe built in a week.  I would have been insane in a day with all those parts.  We highly recommend, if you are ever in this area of Nebraska, you go to this special place.  We decided to have lunch with Deb so she too us to Runza, only in Nebraska, to eat and you know they eat chili with cinnamon rolls – I know sounds weird.  We ate a Runza – it was hamburger, cabbage and cheese in a special bread – was pretty good.

So, what a day and then we drove back to Omaha for our flight out.  Did you know speed limit on HWY 80 was 75 mph?  That was fun in windy Nebraska.  We will be back in the spring to meet our Nebraska Chapter and yes, we found more deserving veterans.  So another great adventure.

We are on our flight home hoping the storm in California hasn’t done any damage.  Stay tuned for what’s up next . . . . . . . . . .

God’s blessings

Gail

Nebraska Trip for Big Birthday

Some people were asking why were we going to Nebraska – nothing there and it is cold.  Well, Nebraska has been in our family roots for many years.  My mom was born here.  We often came here for vacations while growing up.  We have family here for many years, now mostly cousins.  Mom’s cousins came for her birthday in August 2021 and Percy came so they told us to come to his 90th birthday so, since we knew it would be hard for mom and dad and we wanted to send someone from the family, Flo and I volunteered.  I also wanted to present Alan his quilt.

Now the funny part, I asked our Nebraska family what the weather would be like.  They said not to worry, it doesn’t snow that early.  We landed in Omaha at 4:45pm on Friday evening.  It was mighty cold!  After we checked into our hotel, we went for dinner at the Old Mattress Bar and Grill to get a bite.  Boy, we had ½ a hamburger, the absolute best, and we came out to the car and snow was falling.  We woke up to snow pretty much everywhere.  Flo had never been in snow and Rue not so much.  Rue was like what is this I have to pee in?  I let Flo scrape the window off and then walking in the ice was real fun.

We drove 3 hours to Elgin, Nebraska for a party and thank god for All Wheel Drive.  Some of the backroads they don’t plow.  We saw this awesome barn with a quilt block on it but we couldn’t stop.  I told Flo I didn’t think I should do a U-turn in the snow – it might not be good.

Snow is still here.  It didn’t melt like they all said.  We are staying in a place called one-stop-shop.  It has food, gas, and hotel.  We had to sign our life away to get a room and we are the only ones staying here.  The first room heater didn’t work so they moved us.  The second room we took a bath/shower at the same time as the tub wouldn’t drain.  I took Rue out for bathroom and she did her duty, turned around and ran to the door and shoved it open, she was so cold.  I had to laugh at her.

We have had some adventures.  We met great people and celebrated Percy and got to award a quilt.  We even ran into a lady who we had given a quilt to her dad in 2015.  We mailed to Lincoln, Nebraska.  She said that was the most treasured gift he ever received.  He now has passed and the quilt went to his grandson who is an Army Green Beret.  The lady was raised in Elgin, Nebraska and was just passing through this weekend, brought her mother-in-law to the party, found out about us, and just wanted to meet us.  Everywhere we go we are Quilts of Honor even though we came for family.  These quilts are all over the United States and so amazing to hear stories of the quilts.

We will tour a little tomorrow and head back to Omaha to catch our plane out Monday morning.

Love to our Nebraska family.

God’s blessings

Gail