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When I look back at what we accomplished, I often wonder how did we do that?  First, we had many volunteers who worked tirelessly to make our quilts so we could bring over 100 quilts to the Library of Congress.  It took months to prepare our quilts and several of our Chapters provided quilts so they could also be a part of this great experience.  It was an honor to walk the halls of such a beautiful, meaningful place.  To have NorCal Sewing Shop ship a Longarm and come set it up and tear it down just so we could show visitors how we make Quilts of Honor, was amazing.  For our volunteers to show children and adults how to sew a patriotic block was over the top.  The smiles on their faces when they finished said it all.

Our crew was so patient and did anything most anybody wanted help doing even if it wasn’t QOH.  We painted a mural in the Martin Luther Library – didn’t even know we had that talent.  We got lost many times in the DC area but the crew just said, oh, another adventure.  We have had the same crew many times as we work hard.  Often we get very little sleep preparing for our events and so often it doesn’t work like it is supposed to.  We have learned what each other likes and dislikes.  We wear the same matching shirts, with no complaints, every day we are out and so often we are stopped and asked, what do you do.  We lug each other’s suitcases and often share each other’s space.  We share rooms to keep the cost down, like last night.  There were 4 of us in a room and 4 women, one bathroom, and we have to pee.  Every time you think about it, ain’t so good but we make it work.  We often share meals unless its fish and peas – some people are picky.  This time we had to bring home more quilts than usual.  To save shipping costs, we each had one duffel holding ten quilts which made it harder for us in the car and just transporting.  We have to be flexible without going crazy – sometimes it is hard.

Our rest and breaks this time were not many but we all enjoyed what we accomplished.  We all have to be able to do our part, even lifting the luggage and getting in and out of the vehicle can be hard.  We aren’t as young as we used to be.  I do feel blessed that we have so many caring volunteers, all the ones that stayed home, fed the folks, looked after them, and held down the shop and took care of our animals, I’ll be ever grateful.

Quilts of Honor is one special organization and everywhere we go we leave a lasting tribute whether it be a quilt or a thank you for your service to our veterans, they get what we are about.  My honor and tribute was playing Taps at Gettysburg and having Paul and Randy there.  We made more friends and we will see where that takes us.  Special thank you to Uniting Us for letting us be a part of this event.

What a day to be flying – on Independence Day.  A day we celebrate our FREEDOM and we should never take that for granted.  Thank you to all our military that lets us have our Freedom.  May you all have a great 4th and we will see you on the road again. 

God’s blessings to all who made this possible so we could honor our veterans.

Lastly, Diana – we done good and you were in our hearts.

Gail

DC-Baltimore Touring

We spent our last night in the DC area at Carl and Jeanine’s.  We woke up this morning and Jeanine made us the best breakfast we had all week.  We sat on the front porch drinking our coffee and I chased the cardinals with my camera but I didn’t catch them good enough.  I did get some great flower photos.  We had a special time with them both and we will miss our adventures on Southdown Road.

We headed to Baltimore as we will spend the night there closer to the airport – our flight leaves at 6:30 in the morning.  On our way the GPS said Ft. McHenry so I asked Flo to look it up and see what it was.  We found out that is where the Star-Spangled Banner was written when Francis Scott Keys saw the flag flying from a boat off Ft. McHenry.  So, off we went on a tour of the Fort.  The flag totally amazed me and I kept taking pictures hoping I would get the best shot.  We loved seeing the huge cannons and it had lots of tunnels.  The weather wasn’t bad either.  We got in free with Rick and my ID cards so we were happy.

When we finished there they decided they wanted Crab and I relented and said as long as there is a hamburger I am happy.  We drove down to downtown Baltimore to find Captain James Restaurant.  It is crazy streets through Baltimore and drivers are way rude.  We found the outside Captain James and thought cool breeze and look at the water.  So, in we go to the picnic tables and I see whole crabs, lots of them, going to tables.  I am thinking what did we get ourselves into.  Then the waitress comes and says they have no hamburgers – that did it.  She said go across the street to the Captain James inside restaurant.  You couldn’t get me out of there fast enough and yes, it smelled like fish.  Across the street I got my hamburger and they all got their fish.

We left there to head to our hotel, checked in and rested a little then at 7:00 pm we decided to go get desert – Crackle Barrel for peach cobbler right down the street.  We sit down and the waitress tells us they are out.  We get up and leave and decide we will go to McDonalds and get soft serve.  We drive down the street, go in and the ice cream machine is broke.  Back in the car again.  By this time Flo says maybe we aren’t supposed to have dessert.  I said, nope, we now have a mission to find ice cream.   They told us about a place called Ice Cream Cottage in Arbutus, about 8 miles back.  In the car we go, found this little place in I don’t know where.  We all got our ice cream and we were happy.  Then my bright idea – lets go backroads to the hotel instead of the freeway.  It was like a backroad from Deliverance.  The gang was like don’t get lost, they will never find us.  It was sure on the spooky side. We ended our night glad we got our ice cream and home safe – still Pops is the best ice cream.

We fly out very early in the morning.  Thanks for following us along on another QOH Adventure.  Stay tuned for more – you know we never rest.

God’s blessing
Gail

Today we left our huge house with the leaking coffee pot, AC that had a mind of its own, smoke detectors that went off for no reason, a toilet seat in one bathroom that had only one screw on toilet.  You had to be careful you didn’t fall off.  The topper was the bathroom we used would lock you inside.  I got locked in 3 times and had to call on my cell to have someone get me out.  The towels were ripped and half the time, no hot water in one bathroom.  The light was hanging from the ceiling in the master bath.  The lights would also dim for no reason in the living area.  So we will be glad to leave there.

We are spending our next to last night at Jeanine and Carl’s, our second family.  We had a great dinner and homemade peach cobbler and great evening visiting.  We spent our day taking backroads to Culpeper, VA to Belmont Farms, a Distillery on the back roads of Virginia.  We had gone there in November 2021 and gave out a quilt and I knew there was another veteran that worked there so we took a ride.  They remembered us and we asked if the other veteran was there and they said they would get him here.  We decided to take a tour of the Distillery.  It was very interesting.  It is the oldest copper kettle distillery in the US.  They make moonshine and Tim, who we gave the quilt to, is a famous moonshiner.  Tim was pretty surprised to receive his quilt and you can see by his expression.  We went outside to take pictures with him and he asked if he could tell people about his quilt.  I told him to go for it.

Our most excitement of the day was when I missed a turn.  Debbie had said turn here, well I was past it before I could so I decide to take a short cut right next to it.  I turn onto gravel and it was uneven pavement.  So I’ll just say we flew on the road.  All of us went off our seats and Rita in the backseat was covered with duffels.  Of course we all started laughing like crazy.  Val said she thought we were on a rollercoaster.  Someone said they almost peed their pants.  I said. “Well, you are all awake now.”

We did have a nice peaceful day and gave a quilt out, too.  Stay tuned . . . .. . . .

God’s blessings
Gail

Our morning was very quiet as we lost our other 4 roommates who had headed home.  We did get a little longer in bed but that doesn’t mean we got to sleep.  We started off going to Parcel Post to mail our sewing machines and quilts back home.  When we finished there we headed to Ft. Myer to get some uniform stuff I needed for Honor Guard.

We all had fun trying on my hats and which hat looked better.  We also got my brother, Lou, a shirt so us two veterans are ready now when we are called upon for last honors.  We left the Px and went to the gas station where gas was $4.79.  Wish we had that at home.  We then went to Ft. Myer to meet Carla, our Quilts of Honor Ambassador in the DC area.  We were escorted into the Commanders area where we waited until the Commander came in.  He had no idea we were going to give him a quilt.  He thought we were just coming to meet him.  When I pulled the pillowcase up he turned and looked at Carla and I said, “Sir, is Carla in trouble?”  He said “Yes.”  When I shook his hand he got big tears in his eyes.  We had him hold it out to show him.  He then asked if he could speak and he told us that these quilts were a bigger honor than getting a plaque or anything he got in the military.  He said when he had helped Carla with other presentations, in the back of his mind he hoped one day he would get one.  We then presented the Deputy Commander Combat Marine his quilt.  He said that people thank us for our service but I want to thank you all for being good Americans for what you do.  They then presented each of us with a coin from their Command and we took pictures with the Commander and Deputy Commander of Ft. Myer.  We were very honored to be able to be there and such an honor to meet these great heroes.

After, Carla gave us a tour of the headquarters building where we found out about so much history.  General Eisenhower used the building and once it was a hospital built in 1800’s.  Carla also took us to where Blackjacks grave was.  Blackjack took multi presidents to their resting place. We also got to see Carla’s office which was cool.  She rocks.  Thank you, Carla, for always looking out for us.

We left Ft. Myer and decided to drive to Mt. Vernon to have dinner.  That place is the best to eat at.  I got my fried green tomatoes – do you know I was happy.  We then went to visit with our 2nd family who will soon be moving.  We had to go by an ice cream shop on the way back to the house and found Woody’s – very interesting place but it doesn’t beat Pop’s, our favorite.

We are now packing as the next two days we are going to be tourists, we hope, so stay tuned . . . . . . . .

God’s blessings,
Gail

What a special day at LOC

We started our day early as we wanted to be setup and ready to go in our area.  Right off, we started getting visitors – little people wanting to learn how to sew.  Our first were brother and sister and they were so excited.  We had over 20 kids.  The best were my cousin Ray who came with his girls Morgan, Janie, and Kayla.  He also brought his wife, Amy, and the girls sewed their first block.  We had at least 6 or seven that sewed strip blocks.

One of our other good memories of the kids sewing blocks was Colton Tiffany and Annmarie’s Son.  He is 9 and the best boy – helps everyone all the time.  He sewed his first block.

We had so many that signed signature blocks including kids.  One child wrote on his block, “Nobody is willing to die for your country but you” and said “Thank you.”  We had people from India, Portugal and Canada sign signature blocks.  One child, about 7, drew an eagle and one of a flag.  The response we have had with doing both has been great.  I am so proud of the crew.  All day they stayed glued to the table and machines.

When we got ready to end the day Terri, one of the veterans we had given a quilt to in August 2021 at the Women’s Memorial, asked us to stay back.  She told us how proud she was of her quilt and that Quilts of Honor never expects anything in return and she wanted to thank all of us.  She is a glass blower and gave me a beautiful vase with a white rose as that is what represents Vietnam.  She made a special one for Flo to honor Johnny O Brooks and then gave everyone in the crew a rose, all in different colors.  We all felt honored and thanked Terri with all our hearts.

We got to hear my Band sisters play at the LOC – 5 of them.  They were great and I was so proud.

The day wasn’t finished.  We got to go to our second home, Jeanine and Carl’s for dinner.  We were all happy campers to see them and spend time with them.  They are truly our family.  We had pasta dinner and the best ooey-gooey chocolate desert.  It was the best.

We had a great day with some very special people.  We are thankful for all we have accomplished.  Stay tuned . . . . . . . .

God’s blessings
Gail

We started our day early as we had to drive into DC in the morning traffic.  We did good – only one uturn.  We found a parking lot about 3 blocks from the Library and the nice man is saving a spot for us the next two days – that helps so much.

We went through security that is really strict and, of course, I made all the bells and whistles go off and got searched.  We are on the first floor, Room 119.  So many people walked in our area and wanted to see what we were doing.  It was great to see the kids want to learn to sew.  We had one lady, Silvie, from South Carolina, who made a whole block.  She said it was her birthday present to herself.  We had so many people sign a Signature Block for a veteran that Roxane started making more blocks.  The crew was the best.  They all worked together.  Carl and Debbie were getting people to sign on blocks.  Delphia, Ginny and Roxane were sewing blocks and teaching people how to make blocks.  Val, Rita and Rick took turns guarding the Longarm from people getting too close to me and the machine.  Everyone seemed to love what we did and how we did it.  We met two nice ladies from Oklahoma that were DAR members and just came to the Library and loved what we did.  We got our pictures taken with many people.  The crew seemed to enjoy the day, too.

On the way home we went to the store and got food for dinner that we could cook, sat down, and had dinner together.

Our funny for the day is when I tell the crew we are leaving and the time, they know to get in the car.  So we are all in the car and one says, “I forgot my teeth. we were all in such a hurry”, and I said, “you really just wanted to make the Blog.”

We are sending Joyce and Craig our prayers back home.

We got through the night with no fire alarms – thankful for that.  Really thankful for Willene, Carol and Jan for taking care of the folks today and Julie stepping in to save the day.

We survived day One at the Library of Congress!  Stay tuned . . . . . . . .

God’s blessings
Gail

We really began our adventure today at 1:30am.  We had all finally gone to bed to get some needed rest when the smoke alarm went off.  Pretty much all on the second floor ran out of their rooms looking for smoke and all we saw was each other in our PJ’s.  We were all asking each other like what is going on.  We did a walk through, saw nothing, so we all went back to sleep.  About an hour later it did it again.  The darn think did it until 5:30am, off and on, so that sleep we wanted, ha, we didn’t get much.

When we got up for our coffee, the coffee pot had leaked like crazy.  We still managed our coffee or that wouldn’t have been a good thing.  You all know if Flo doesn’t get her coffee, it isn’t a good thing.  Rita and Debbie needed double shots of coffee as they were on fire watch all night.  So, our morning was off with a bang.

We drove over to Ft. Myer so I could get some uniform blouses and guess what – closed on Monday.  We were beginning to think was had a cloud over us.  We finally found a parking lot in DC not too far from the Library and the man was a nice guy.  He said he would try and hold a parking place for us the next day – we will see.  We only had to walk 3 blocks to the Library of Congress and once you get in it is huge.  One place looks like the next place and get lost.  We got in fine but security is so tight everywhere.  Plus there is no handicap parking anywhere.

We found the room we were going to be in and soon Uniting US showed up and equipment started arriving.  The Longarm had to be brought in on some carts but then carted up the stairs.  Rita and I got selected to carry the longarm poles and they weren’t light.  They were ten foot long and we liked wiped out the sides of the walls they were so long.  Rick helped Richard from NorCal Sewing, get the machine set up and Roxanne, NorCal Sewing Richard’s wife, helped set up the longarm.  We had her funning in no time.

Roxane, Chapter Leader from WISE, is here with us so she helped Flo set up the other sewing demonstration area.  Our Crew is growing.  Carl came yesterday and today Delphia and Ginny came.  There are now 10 of us – small but mighty.

Tonight we had McDonalds to eat.  We sure know we aren’t with Carl and Jeannine who treated us like queens and kings.  We sure miss them and our mansion.  We are all excited as we prepare for a life adventure being at the Library of Congress.  Enjoy the pictures.  You do know I love flags and I did catch a few.  Hope we get some sleep.

Stay tuned . . . .. . . . . .

God’s blessings
Gail

Martin Luther King Library

We all slept in as it was a Sunday and we didn’t get much sleep the other two nights.  We spent most of the morning organizing quilts in alpha order then putting them in cases.  Debbie and Rick went to pick up Roxane at the airport while we organized.  We all had sandwiches and then headed out to the Martin Luther King Library.  We got there pretty easy but then we had to find a place to park.  Let me tell you, have you ever parked a Suburban in DC?  Well it is worse than San Francisco.  We couldn’t find anything so finally decided to try a parking garage.  Ha, what an adventure.  With inches to spare from the roof line, we crept down the curvy road.  We got to the bottom and no parking places.  They were the smallest dang things I had ever seen so we crept along.  I was afraid we would not fit.  Finally, a handicap parking right next to the elevator.  We thought we were so smart.  Ha, wrong again.  You had to have a special card to use the elevator.  So we start walking back the way we came in.  Oh Lordy, it was up all the way and kept curving.  It was like climbing a large mountain plus we didn’t think we would see daylight.  When we got to the top we were out of breath and like, OMG, did we really just do that?  Then we walked 7 more blocks to Martin Luther King Library.  We had our 10,000 steps by the end of the day.

When we got to the Library, Uniting US was painting a Mural so you know us, we jumped in to paint.  Rita laid down on the floor but I couldn’t do it like her so I sat on my butt.  We were painting the background on the bottom of the Mural.  Flo got to paint the bugler which was fun.  Then we watched a program called Story Telling which we all enjoyed.  They act out stories of people’s character.  Then it was time for the Library to close but not before Rita and Roxane slid down the slide in the Library.

As we all walked out of the Library we lost Rick and Val so I sent Debbie to get them.  When she got to the door of the Library the Security Guard yelled at her, “You’re not going back in.”  Scared her to death.  She came back like a flash and she was telling us how mad the guard was and we all said that’s all we needed, QOH Arrested at Library. 

We did our 8 block walk but this time we walked down the parking garage, around and around the curves until we found the car.  We all pilled in then I had to drive that suburban out of the garage with only inches on the sides of the car.  It was a holy nightmare because I prayed all the way up.  We won’t do that again.

We drove home and went by a Mexican restaurant and ordered our food to go.  Check out the menu – it was pasted to the window of the restaurant so you could see it from the street.  I called it drive by eats.

We had a nice evening visit and then packed all the quilts.  So another busy day and always an adventure.  Stay tuned . . . . . . . .

God’s blessings,
Gail

Gettysburg Honors

We finally arrived in Baltimore, Maryland at 1:45am in the morning (Saturday).  Guess you would say we were a little on the late side.  Since there were 7 of us with 11 suitcases and 1 Duffel, we decided that Debbie and I would take off for the car and come back and get the crew and bags.  We had a good plan.  Did it work that way?  Heck no, so here goes our first adventure.

They didn’t have a big enough car for us at Enterprise even though Debbie and I told them we had reserved it.  They said, “Sorry, we don’t have anything.”  I’m like ma’am your breaking my heart.  We have got to get these quilts and people to our mission.  She said she would see what she could do.  Well, Debbie was pacing, I was pacing and I called the crew and said, “Houston we have a problem.”  They got a shuttle bus with all our stuff and headed to us.  By the time they got there it was 2:15am.  Then, the manager says, “I can’t give you a big car, it has no oil.”  We are like, really?  So they finally give us a Ford 8 passenger car.  We could hardly get everything in and the crew had luggage everywhere but it would get us to the hotel.  I tried to get the manager to give us a guarantee for a car in the morning but she said she couldn’t do that. 

So, again, I go into how important it was and you all told us there was a car for us.  Well, in the end she called me at 4am and said to come and get the car at 6am.  Well, it was 3:30am before we got to bed so Rick and I got maybe 2 hours of sleep.  So, we started a crazy first day and this was all before the sun rose.

We got up at 8:30am to have breakfast so that we could get to Gettysburg.  You know you will see pictures along the side of the road.  You would be surprised at how quick I can pull off the road for a barn picture with a quilt.  It is beautifully green here.  Wish we could bring some back to California.

We finally got started to Gettysburg at 9:00am, not bad considering our morning.  We were meeting my cousin Paul and Randy and one of our best friends, Carol and her sister, who drove from Pittsburg.  Carol is our best friend and used to live in Calaveras.  It was so great to see everyone.  It made our trip so worth it.  So now we are at 11 of us.  We are in a 2 car caravan.  We decided our first stop would be the Visitors Center but it was so busy and hot outside.  All the tours were booked so we decided to “Auto Tour” on our own and that gave us more time to visit.  Rita and Debbie climbed to the top of one of the Monuments – they looked like ants up on top.  We decided to eat at this restaurant called Hoof, Fin and Foul. That way some could eat fish (Yuk).  We did have a good meal and everyone got really full.  Thank you to Paul and Randy for supporting us at lunch.  We used Paul and Randy’s room as home base as we didn’t have a place to stay yet.  I went up to change and the crew stayed downstairs in the lobby area.  When I came downstairs, all of them were stretched out asleep on lounge chairs except Rick.

We took off at least 40 minutes early since I was to report at 6:30pm to Gettysburg National Cemetery.  Well, first thing the two cars get separated – not good.  Then we end up in Evergreen Cemetery winding through the cemetery in a large SUV and we can’t find the exit.  I have 6 voices telling me which way plus the GPS talking and the other car calling us on the phone.  It was like a nightmare and I’m thinking we traveled over 2,000 miles and I am not going to be able to play.  The other car was on one side of the cemetery and we are on the opposite side.  My cousin, Paul in the other car, is thinking Gail is going to lose it when, as we are flying down Baltimore Pike Road, I see Wendy Allen on the other side of the road.  I quickly yell that there is where we should be.  I sped the car into this parking lot across the street and jump out of the car.  It was like a fire drill with all of us.  I am still dressing, Flo and Cyndy take off to tell Wendy that I am there.  They had to climb over a rock wall bit in the 1800’s and here I come behind them.  Cyndy says I leaped over the wall.  We finally get there at like 6:32pm.  Then the other car realizes they are across the Cemetery which is huge.  Rita ran to us as she knew we would all be crazy.  Everyone finally made it and we all tried to settle down so I could play.

What an honor to be there on this hallowed ground.  Before we started we honored Wendy Allen with a Quilt of Honor for all she has done bringing 100 Nights of Taps to Gettysburg in their seventh year.  I am always nervous that I will make a mistake and I never want to but sometimes your lip doesn’t always do what you want.  It wasn’t as perfect as I would like but they know I played from my heart.  They presented me with this awesome coin that only Buglers receive if you play there.  This will always be special to me.  At the end, Wendy called all the veterans in the crowd up front and I shook each one of their hands and thanked them for their service.  Quite a special night even with all our crazy stuff.

We then had to say goodbye to the Jersey Boys, Paul and Randy.  Love you both.  Thank you for being a part of Quilts of Honor crew for a day.  Carol and Sandy, we loved seeing you too.  We drove back to Annandale, VA to the AirB&B where we are staying.  It is a huge house – like 9 bedrooms.  Uniting US brought us all kinds of goodies to keep us going until we could get to the store.  They brought us all our boxes and Colton, a 9 year old boy, helped us get those big boxes up the stairs.  His mom, Tiffany, carried some all by herself.

What a day and evening!  Great time with family and friends in Gettysburg.  Our thoughts were at home as our community fireworks were on Saturday night and the finale honored our sister, Diana.

We are looking forward to all our up and coming adventures and hope all these things happening in today’s world won’t stop our big event.  Stay tuned . . . . . . . .

God’s blessings
Gail

100 Nights of Taps

Here’s a link to the video of Valley Springs resident Gail Belmont playing taps on 6.25.22.