Monday, September 19, 2011

Update on Counting My Blessings Blog

Dear Friends.....

WOW!!! I did not realize it had been over a year since my last post. I have found over the past months that I am unable to keep up with three blogs simultaneously so I am going to put this one in "cold storage" until I am able to get back to working on my sampler. Thanks to all of you who followed me in the beginning. I hope that you have successfully completed your samplers. I fully intend to do all 100 squares, but not at the moment. If you would like to follow my active photography blog, please come visit me at:


Again, thanks for all of your support and kind comments in the past. I hope to return to this blog sometime in the future. Happy stitching to all of you.

Love and hugs.....Genie

Thursday, September 30, 2010

I Need To Get Back to My Sampler

I am alive and well, and I haven’t forgotten any of you.  I have just been devoting all of my spare time to trying to finally teach myself to use my Canon Rebel for more that just point and shoot.  I ‘ve started another blog devoted only to photography and have been working to develop it dunning the past two months... Climbing the Digital Mountain One Step at a Time, and I still have my crafty blog, Buttons for Baga.

School is back in session and I still have my job....for that I am very thankful.  All is well here in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia.  Buddy and I are just fine.  I need desperately to get back to my sampler, has been quite a while since I have worked on it.  My hat blessing was the last one I completed.  I promise to do better in the days and weeks to come.  I have a LONG ways to go to even begin to start finishing it.  100 squares are a LOT!

Hugs to all of you......Genie

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Blessing #31 - Hats

Anyone born and reared in south Florida understands the importance of hats.  My mother never allowed me out of the house without a hat, and the habit of wearing one is so firmly instilled into my subconscious I continue to always wear my hat even at 71.  As a little girl they were the straw ones with the round bill and a bow in the back, and that style continues to be my favorite.  I love baseball caps, too, and wear them much of the time, but if I am dressed in my “go to work” clothes, I wear one of my straw hats. For this square,  I put the bow on the side because if I had put in in the back it would have been nonexistent.  Also, I do wear glasses, I do have blue eyes, and I do have gray hair, but my eyes do NOT bulge as they appear in this square. You talk about “primitive” art, well, my embroidery is pretty darn primitive :-). I chose the quote below because all of my days are special.  I just didn’t know it was because I always wear my hat!

“Whenever you wear your hat, your day will be special.”
~Margo Nickel

Blessing #30 - My Shade Tree

What is an OLD farmhouse in the country without a creek and a BIG shade tree.  It is one of the joys of my life and definitely a blessing.  Over the 32 years I have lived here, it has grown and grown and grown.  When it rains, its lower branches touch the ground as I have shown in pictures I’ve posted in the past on my "Buttons for Baga" blog. That tree is absolutely amazing.  The birds and the bees love it, and Buddy and I love it.  It is the centerpiece of our front yard.

“The trees are GOD’S great alphabet:
  With them He writes in shining green
  Across the world His thoughts serene.”
~Leonora Speyer

Friday, July 16, 2010

Blessing #29 - “Jack"

Yesterday I paid homage to Trouble, my husband’s cat, but my schnauzer, Jack, is not happy with me and is asking when I’m going to write about him and what he means to me.  Let me start at the beginning.  After Buddy’s cocker, Peanut, lost his fight with cancer, we really missed having a HOUSE dog out here in the country.  We do not have any neighbors, and we were missing the barking and that feeling of protection we get with a dog around the house.  My daughter had a schnauzer which we liked a lot, so I decided to start looking for one for us.  I found an ad notice in the paper for one about 150 miles from here, so Buddy and I drove over to get him.  When we drove up in the driveway, we were awed by all the angels that were everywhere about the property.  We went in the house, and it was the same way in there....a little bizarre for us. We had never seen so many angels anywhere in all of our lives. The guys left us in the living room and went out to a “run” at the rear of the house and brought little Jack to us. He was the runt of the litter, but we fell in love with him immediately, paid our money, and brought our little baby home.  Within a few months we knew we had “adopted” a very developmentally challenged dog.  Apparently he was never allowed out of the little short concrete run attached to his dog house and did not have a clue how to interact with people.  He didn’t walk like the dogs we had had in the past, he was afraid of people, and after 7 years he still has lots of problems.  When he would go into our little bathroom, he would back out....he did not know how to turn around to walk out! The “angel people” really did a job on him....or should I say they did NOTHING with him other than give him food and water. We don’t care, though. We call him our 3rd son and cannot imagine our lives without him.  He is my baby and follows me continually from one end of the house to the other sometimes tripping me and other times literally walking into me.  He loves his little crate in our dining room, and he thinks “cookie” means to go get in bed....with or without a treat.  He is hilarious and  absolutely adores Buddy and me.  Sometimes I think I will scream when he won’t leave me alone when I am cleaning and working about the house, but  just let him so his thing and we get along just fine. He and Trouble get along quite well....and their kitty/doggie olympics absolutely crack us up.  When you talk about a pet giving you unconditional love, he is at the top of the scale.  He is always at our sides...but I say he is MY dog. Where Trouble was Blessing #28, he is definitely Blessing #29.

“There is no psychiatrist in the world like a puppy licking your face.”
~Ben Williams

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Blessing #28 - “Trouble"

“Trouble” is the name of Buddy’s beloved yellow and white cat, and Buddy is the only person with whom he interacts.  He hides under Bud’s bed when anyone comes into the house. He will NOT go outside under any conditions. Once the bed is fully made in the morning, there will suddenly appear a big lump... that is Trouble snoozing away his day under ALL the covers. Somehow he wiggles his way in under the bedspread, blanket, and top sheet. He insists on being fed both either in the washroom or in Bud’s room and it is his choice. He demands his treats be given out whenever he starts crying, and the crying is so loud he gets his way immediately. When Trouble is ready for Bud to get up in the morning and feed him, he bites on his face and nose. My husband has had treasured pets through our 31 years together, but Trouble is different from all the others.  The two of them talk to one another in their own little language, and they play together like two little kids. I cannot  imagine Buddy without his sidekick.  The cat brings him so much love and pleasure and that works both ways. I am basically a non-being in Trouble’s mind. The only time he’ll even acknowledge me is when Buddy is gone, and he’s out of water. Then he’ll come poking over to me - but not too close - crying his loudest. Once I replenish the water bowl he disappears back under the covers until Buddy gets home. Pets are wonderful to have, but this cat is a particular blessing because Buddy adores him so.  I love watching the two of them always makes me giggle. Trouble is the best cat in the whole wide world, my husband adores him, and for those reasons I have given him the honor of being designated as Blessing #28.

"Cats were put into the world to disprove the dogma that all things were created to serve man.”
~Paul Gray

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Blessing #27 - Having An Adequate Income in This Day and Time

I know you are wondering what I mean by “income” being one of my blessings, but this is the way I look at it.  Buddy and I are two of the fortunate ones who have retired from state jobs and now have jobs we love to supplement our retirement. It is mind boggling, but half of his retirement goes to pay for health insurance - it is UNBELIEVABLE what we pay - and my social security and state retirement help to pay the monthly living expenses.  Because we are fortunate enough to have work, we are able to have money to buy good, healthy food, gas, go to visit the children and grandchildren, and live a very simple but fulfilling life together.  We no longer travel to far away places for pleasure as we did in the past, and we have to watch “the non-essentials” we want to buy. ..but that is OK.  We are so  happy here in our old farmhouse out in the country. We have everything we, a home we are now buying for the second time, our old cars,a big blue beast of a farm truck for dumpster runs, pretty good health for our ages, our jobs, and a family plus two animals that love us very much.  We are so VERY fortunate not have to worry about insurance, food, and having our own home as so many Americans do.  The funds we have coming in, for now, allow us to live our lives happily and without too much worry.  Of course, we are concerned about what the future holds for us healthwise and workwise, but at this point we are just fine. We are very thankful for what we have. Yes, it is definitely a blessing we have enough funds coming in from our work and retirement to allow us to continue to live our simple, happy lives. We are so very fortunate.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Blessing #26 - Being a Citizen of the United States of America

     This blessing is pretty much self-explanatory.  I’m one of those seriously patriotic people who everyday at some point thinks about how lucky I am to live in the United States and be allowed to enjoy all of the freedoms offered to me thorough my citizenship. There are many other beautiful places in the world I’ve visited and where I could have lived, but to be born, bred, and live in the United States of America to me is the best.  I love traveling to other countries, visiting with the people, and looking at all of the beautiful scenery and special landmarks, but I am ALWAYS very thankful and happy to return home.  
     When trying to plan out this square, I had the worst time working out how I was going to get in all the stripes and all the stars.  After much frustration, I asked my husband if he had any ideas for the “1 inch square,” and his brainstorm was brilliant...follow the correct order of the stripes but put 13 stars in a circle. Well, I made 13 little French knots, but the circle didn’t come out to actually be of a true circular shape.  Still, I love my little flag, and I think is was very important to include it as Blessing #26 in my 100 Blessing Sampler.

"Don't forget to stop every once in a while and actually thank God for blessing America - he gets a lot of requests, you know. 
 ~Carrie Latet
“There is nothing wrong with American that cannot be cured by what is right with America.”
~William J. CLinton

“My God! How little do my countrymen know what precious blessings whey are in possession of, and which no other people on earth enjoy!”
~Thomas Jefferson

Friday, July 2, 2010

Updated Collage of My Sampler

I wanted to get an idea of what my sampler was going to like so here are my completed squares side by side using a SmileBox collage templet. I seem to have more luck with SBox that with Flickr and the other programs out there. Now I have a little better feeling of how the completed sampler is going to take shape.

Click to play this Smilebox collage: Counting My Blessings

Monday, June 28, 2010

Blessing #25 - Rockbridge County Schools

     The Rockbridge County School System has been kind to me through the years.  They hired me when I moved here in 1978 as a 6th grade teacher.  After that they moved me to middle school 6th Grade English where I remained until I took early retirement in 1998.  Then after my early retirement ran out and I wanted to return to the system, they rehired me as an In-School Suspension middle school teacher which was 6 years ago.  So at 71, I am still working for them...what more could an employee ask for?  I no longer get any benefits and am a non-contractural employee, but that suits me fine.  They pay me a very fair hourly salary for a person my age, and I have no complaints. As far as I know, I am still on the payroll for the 2010-2011 school year which means I will still be teaching at 72....I actually started in the field at 20! It has been a long, long rewarding career.  So to have a job where I like working with people who show me kindness and respect, I have to thank Rockbridge County Schools for all they continue to do for me and my family.  They have stood by me for many years. For these reasons I have selected the school system as my Blessing #25.

“The best way to appreciate your job is to imagine yourself without one.”
~Oscar Wilde - 1854-1900

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Blessing #24 - My Hot Coffee in the Morning before School

   Some years ago my husband gave me the cutest pink "Life Is Good" coffee mug, and like with the other things he gives me, I consider it one of my treasures.  Every morning about 5:30, he brings me that pink cup full of hot, freshly brewed Gevalia coffee.  Needless-to-say, I am hardly awake when he deposits it on my night table, but it doesn’t take me long to start sipping away trying to force my eyes open and my brain to start functioning.  I am one of those silly people that hangs out in the bed for 45 minutes, and then has to hit the floor running in order to have time to shower, dress, and get out the door by 7:00 for my 35 mile drive up I-81 - the truckers’ favorite route / the driver’s nightmare -  to my school.  Without him and that coffee, I do not think I could make it....remember, I am 71, and I am still going to that classroom everyday!  Really, Genie, surely it is going to be time to retire before too much longer!!!!! Thank you , Buddy, again and again for being so faithful with that coffee.  It is my Blessing #24.

“A morning without coffee is like sleep.”


Friday, June 18, 2010

Blessing #23 - The Appalachian Trail

     The Appalachian Trail is a rugged hiking trail that begins at Springer Mountain about 100 miles from Atlanta, Georgia, and ends atop Mount Katahdin in Maine. It roughly follows the ridge line of the chain of Appalachian Mountains. In certain parts of the south, that ridge line is actually the boundary between some states. Technically, you can be walking with your left foot in Tennessee and your right one in North Carolina...pretty funky, don’t you think! No, I did not walk the 2,167 miles, but my husband did, and I am SO proud of his accomplishment.

There are four types of hikers:

1. Thru Hikers- These are the people that start in Maine and walk south or start in Georgia and walk north. They do the entire trail from one end to the other at one time usually taking 5-6 months. The mid-point is in PA, but the psychological mid-point is the little town of Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, where the AT Headquarters are housed. When you go through there, they take your picture and you sign their book for history’s sake.

2. Section Hikers - These are the hikers that do the trail in sections, and this is what my husband did. You hike as far as you can during the time you have and them come back and do another section and another section until you FINALLY complete the entire trail.   You don’t have to follow any just hike from Point A to Point B, record it in your journal, and keep doing that over and over again.

3. Yellow Blaze Hikers - These are the people who thru hike or section hike, but from time to time hitch a ride and skip certain sections of the trail. They make better time than folks like my husband.

4. Pleasure Hikers - These are folk like me that just love to go up on the trail for short little hikes to enjoy the sights and the sounds of being out in the middle of nowhere.   Some people stay a night or two while others do simple day hikes.

   My husband was a section hiker who started hiking here in VA in 1992.  After completing our state, he did all the sections in NC and GA, and once those were finished he started north getting from home to his hiking point by car, bus, plane, or paying drivers to pick him up, drop him off, pick him back up, and then get him wherever he needed to go to hook up with his return transportation back to VA. He NEVER yellow blazed one single mile of the trail.  He walked each and every mile of it from beginning to end, and here is the photo that was taken by a fellow hiker when the summited  Mount Katahdin on August 5, 2002...quite the prized possession, to say the least.
     I still can’t believe he really did it. He is only 5’5” tall, weighs 135 pounds, and is not the steadiest guy on two feet. Thanks heavens for his hiking poles. How he climbed all those mountains and scaled those steep rocks I cannot imagine.  I just know he had to have had a “Guardian Angel” beside him all the way because he made it without illness or injury  It is truly a miracle in my book! When he finally got home, I met him at the Roanoke airport with this big yellow sign:

As you can see, there was NO going to Walt Disney World for him....he was coming home to me! I was so happy to see him and to finally have him back home again. Those two and three week absences...and there was one AWFUL one that lasted a month -  were rough around this old house.  I missed him, and so did the pets.  It just wasn’t the same without him.vYou just realize how much you take for granted until you have to do without.  My life was very lonely as our only means of communication were post cards and letters...and a call from a pay phone in a little town every once in a while. He talks about going back to Vermont and hiking up there again, and if that is what he wants then he must do it.  He loves the peace, quiet, solace, and beauty of the woods and nature.  He in one of those one in a million guys that asks for little, but has done so much with his life. He says he is very low maintenance...just give him a little food and water and he will be OK! That really is the truth.

     Why is the Appalachian Trail to be considered a blessing? What more of a blessing could I ask for than to have my husband complete such an awesome undertaking with so much happiness and pleasure. When he’s happy, he makes me happy. I could never do it, but I pretended all the time he was out there that I was hiking, too.  To see him so happy and so proud was wonderful.  Yes, the Appalachian Trail was and is definitely a blessing for him and for me...and if you get the chance to "take a walk on the wild side", be sure to take advantage of the opportunity.  It is out of this world and there is nothing else exactly like it anywhere in the United States.

“A man does not climb a mountain without bringing some of it away with him, and leaving something of himself upon it.
~Sir Martin Conway 1856-1937

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Blessing #22 - NPR...National Public Radio

    I don’t know how many of you listen to NPR - National Public Radio - as I do, but if you do I know you must feel the same as I about the excellence of their broadcasting.  I love classical music, and after 7 years of keeping In-School Suspension Rooms at two middle schools, I have actually turned on my students to the music.  I know it is hard to believe, but it is the truth. There are days when some of the worst of the worst come in asking me to PLEASE turn my music back on so they can listen.  They tell me it calms them helps them to get back on track so they can do their work.  It is absolutely amazing.  I love it, and now my students love it.  

     The music isn’t the only programing I enjoy.  I adore Click and Clack and Prairie Home fact, I put PHCompanion on my iPod so I can listen to it when I walk.  Their news is the best, and the lack of commercials is wonderful.  

     Public Radio is really hurting financially with all of the cutbacks.  This year our local station coming from Virginia Tech is telling us their need for donations is the greatest ever.  Our faculty has been trying hard to get out the word, because not only are those of us who listen for pleasure going to feel the results of the cutbacks, the children that view the programs produced for the educational setting are really going to suffer.  Many programs are up for the chopping block, and it is very sad.  

     I guess we as citizens of the greatest country in the world have become terribly complaisant over the years and have come to take things like NPR and PBS for granted.  Well, it now appears we are all going to need to become more proactive and work harder to keep those things that really mean the most to us up and running.  For me that is definitely NPR and PBS.  This is the year for me to step up to the call and help all I can.  I do not want to see the programming of my Blessing #21 be cut.  It just means too much to me and to many that I know.

“The whole world is held together by radio. We all experienced the same heroes and comedians and singers. They are giants.”
~Woody Allen - 1935

“It’s not true I had nothing on. I had on the radio.”
~Marilyn Monroe - 1926-1962

“When television came roaring in after the war (WWII) they did a little survey asking children which they preferred and when p television or radio. And there was this 7 year old boy who said he preferred radio because the pictures were better.”
~Author unknown

Blessing #21 - My Flowers

     Oh, how I love the flowers in our yard.  They are all so beautiful and colorful. Whether they are large or small I don’t care...just so they bloom. I love watering them, weeding them, and photographing them. My husband has a little “Harry Potter” room in the stairwell under the steps going up to the second floor where we have installed grow lights on a timer, and that is where he starts my plants from seed each year.  It is such fun watching them sprout and then start to grow up towards the light until it is time to move them outside into the yard.  Some years we get a special surprise when some pop up as freebies having made it over from last year.  That is really a neat.  The flowers here in VA are different from the ones I knew as a child growing up in South Florida, but that makes it even more exciting. Each year I learn something new.  

     My husband is a hiker, all of the children and grandchildren have been brought up around the mountains and the woods, and one of our closest friends is very knowledgeable on plants, trees, and flowers.  On many Saturdays and Sundays we go hiking up into the mountains to enjoy the majestic views and to identify and photograph the little orchids as they are popping from the ground, the blood root, trout lilies, azaleas, mountain laurel and rhododendron to name a few. Those weekend walks are heavenly..though some of them turn into “Forced Marches” for me.  The hills seem to keep getting steeper each year, but I’m not going to let that stop me.  The guys give me a hard time, so I just grin and keep on hoofing it along with them. 

     Flowers and their beauty have added much to our lives.  We nurture and treasure them.  They are Blessing #22.

“What a desolate place would be a world without a flower! It would be a face without a smile, a feast without a welcome. Are not flowers the stars of the earth, and are not the stars the flowers of heaven.”
~A.J. Balfour