Archive for April, 2010


On Monday I had my car inspected for Maryland title and tags.

On Wednesday my husband fell and injured himself. We spent six hours in the Emergency Room.  I succeeded in not having him admitted to the hospital. Fortunately, his doctor, who knows me, backed me up.

So I have a car and a falling, failing husband. What a coincidence.

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I have a car!


You may remember that on April 10th I rented a car to drive to my son’s house to take care of grandson Noah. The rental car was a red Toyota Yaris. At first sight, I fell in love with this car. The shape is so cute and the color is named Absolutely Red. I loved driving it. The handling and acceleration were great, and the small size just fit me. But when I returned the car to the rental agency, I had no thought of buying a car. I thought, “This worked well. I’ll do this again.”

That was on Monday. On Tuesday I discovered that I had an absolute conviction that I had to own a car. Until that idea took possession of me, I had simply been unable to justify to myself buying and owning a car. Son Michael thought differently, of course; and from the time I got my driver’s license in February, he’s been on my case, “You have to have a car!” So I e-mailed Michael, “I’m ready to buy a car.” He phoned me and told me a website for used cars where I should begin my search.

Meanwhile, I told Ernie that I had decided to buy a car and asked him to tell me how much I should spend, how we should pay for it (cash or finance), and which makes and models to consider. With his and my own research, I narrowed the search to three cars—the Nissan Versa, the Hyundai Elantra, and the Toyota Yaris. Ernie said $10,000, cash, and proceeded to find the cash in some funds that were yielding us virtually no interest. Then Michael took me car shopping. First we went to the Nissan dealership. Here’s Michael getting out of a 2010 Versa.


I drove a 2008 gray Versa. It was an enjoyable experience. If they had found a red, 2-door hatchback Versa, it might have been strictly a cost decision—which car is the best deal. But I definitely did not want an old-lady drab sedan.

Next we went directly to the Toyota dealership so I could make an immediate comparison between the Versa and the Yaris. Now, when I had the rental car, with no thought of buying any car, I had not even looked into the back seat or paid attention to any features except the air conditioning. I just saw what I needed to see to be able to drive it. At the dealership, I did a careful look-see and I became convinced that what I had to have was a red Yaris, just like the one I had rented. “Okay,” said Michael. “We’re going to find you a red Yaris, for $10,000, and less than 40,000 miles.”

He found one in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, about 60 miles away, a 2007 with only 19,000 miles and one owner. It had manual transmission. I was excited. I used to love driving stick shift, many years ago. Great! An old woman with a stick shift, sporty little car. But upon sober reflection, I thought, “Yeah. Fun now. I’m fit and vigorous, but will it be fun six or seven years from now? What condition will my knees be in then?” (Good, presumably, because of all the workouts, swimming, and walking I do.) But, I decided it was probably not a good idea for me to have manual transmission.

Instead, I told Michael, “Change of plans. We’re not going to Carlisle tomorrow. We’re going to Rockville.” There was a red Yaris with 30,000 miles on it. It took us two hours to get there in rush-hour traffic—forty-some miles away, where we saw a car that was not acceptable at the price and Michael brought  me back home. He said that if the salesman had taken $1000 off the price, it might have been okay. I drove it. I thought it was okay, but Michael said I could do better. And Michael was in charge.

He told me that the salesman at the Toyota dealership where I’d looked at the Yaris had called him to say that he’d found a 2008 red Toyota-certified Yaris that he could sell for $10,300. Michael told him he’d have to do better than that because he had promised his mother that she would get the car she wanted for no more than $10,000. But he made an appointment for us to see the car on Friday afternoon. And he told me that the certification would be worth paying more for.

The first thing the salesman said to us was that certifying the car would cost $695. He had told Michael that he would show us a certified car for $10,300. Without a word to the salesman, we got into Michael’s car and he brought me home again.

Home again in time to have Happy Hour with Lorraine at the Care Center. I dashed to our apartment, made guacamole, packed up the bottle of wine, wine glasses, chips, etc, and got to Lorraine’s room at my usual time on Fridays. While we were sipping wine and chatting, my phone rang. It was Michael. “JoWynn, are you free tonight?”

He had found a 2008 red Yaris in Alexandria (40-some miles away) that was being offered for $9870. It had 43,000 miles on it. Michael told the salesman about our previous experiences at other dealerships and said that if he could sell the car for $9300, we’d be there to look at it. And if it was as described, I’d buy it. In a few minutes, my phone rang again. “He’ll take $9300, but we’re not going tonight. Too heavy, crazy, Friday traffic. I’ll pick you up at 7:30 in the morning.”

After I had driven the car and we sat down at the salesman’s desk, he put down a print-out of the webpage with the price of the car on it, crossed out the price, and wrote $9300. I bought the car.

Michael was much more determined that I would have the car I wanted than I was. I was willing to settle for a blue Yaris or even for a Versa, if the price was right. I was so aware of how much time and effort Michael had already put into getting me a driver’s license and taking me to look at cars. But he would not stop until he had found  me a red Yaris that was within my budget and met my other specifications.

I drove from Alexandria, around the Washington, D.C. beltway to Rockville, for a training session with Anne. After we’d had dinner, I drove back to Charlestown—about 100 miles of driving my car on the day I bought it.

Oh, boy!

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Rope stitch

This has been a busy and exciting week for me, which I will blog about in my next post. Suffice it to say that I have not done anything with the rope stitch except to try to do it.

On my first attempt, which is shown on the right of this picture, I failed to understand that the stitches have to overlap.

Rope stitch

My first line looks more like a barred or twisted chain stitch. It lacks bulk. I could see that it didn’t look like Sharon’s rope stitching. So I consulted one of her references, The Embroidery Stitch Bible by Betty Barnden. There I found the diagram that showed me what I had missed.

Rope stitch diagram_0002

My line on the left looks like the rope stitch is supposed to look. It’s too late for me to do any doodling with this stitch right now. Tomorrow we’ll have a new stitch to try. But I think that knowing this stitch may be useful at some point, when I want that kind of bulky linear look.

Thanks again, Sharon.

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While I had the car

I drove to Patapsco State Park, a very extensive, mostly wooded park with well-maintained trails throughout. Here are some shots I took.




The edge of the pond.


Looking across the pond.


Then I returned the rental car.

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Yesterday I soloed!

Yesterday I rented a car and drove it by myself. It was the first time in 16 years that I had driven a car by myself.

My cute rental car–a Toyota Yaris.


I drove 60 miles to my son’s house to be Noah’s grownup while his parents were away.

Here’s Noah’s little red car.


Today, after arriving home from Pete’s house, I drove to Michael’s house. After all, I can’t return the car until tomorrow and there was still gas in the tank that I had paid for. So, off I went again.

I loved it. Got to talk with Josh who returned from pole vaulting practice while I was there. Also, I loved the time I spent with Noah, from noon until 9:00 p.m. Saturday. I told his parents not to hurry home. I wanted to get him to bed before they returned. Success. He said he’d had a good day. Me, too.

Ditto today!

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What a weekend I’ve just had!

On Friday, at the invitation of an aide at the Care Center here where I visit and volunteer, I attended the Good Friday service at Greater Purpose Apostolic Church, my first experience of black Pentecostal worship. It was a wonderful experience.

The church is very small, on a little side street, in a black, urban, poor neighborhood. Helena called it a “family church”, and I found out it is. Most of the congregation and many of the officials are related to each other. Because my driver was early and I was already waiting for him, I arrived at 7:15 for a service that was supposed to start at 7:30. A few people were there, preparing the sanctuary and bustling to and fro. They warmly welcomed me. Little by little a few more people arrived and were seated. At 7:40, a woman stood at the podium and began singing. We stood and sang with her, for most of an hour. And then the service began.

By this time the ten people who were dignitaries, pastors, and other important people were seated on the platform in front of us. At most, I would say there were about 50 people present by 9:00. Music was provided by keyboard, drum set, and saxophone, as well as a choir of six voices. We sang. We clapped. We rocked. The sound system produced deafening volume, so loud that my ears actually ached. Really, no amplification was necessary in that small room, that may have held 100 people. I think the loud sound was to generate excitement. As people stamped their feet and danced, the floor shook. My body was vibrating.

Seven speakers in sequence spoke on the seven last words of Jesus on the cross. I was mightily impressed and moved by the insights and applications these speakers drew from the texts assigned to them. Clearly, each had thought long and deeply about these words and their meaning to them.

Here’s the service program.



By 10:00 I had to leave. Even though I was enjoying the experience, I could no longer tolerate the intense sound. By this time, they had gotten through the first five speakers and the singing had begun again. I was sorry to leave, but my ears continued ringing and my body continued vibrating for half an hour after I got home. I suppose the service may have ended by midnight.

On Saturday I had another intense experience. Grandson Matt picked me up at 5:15 and took me to son Michael’s house. As soon as I had put my stuff in “my” room and come back downstairs, Matt announced, “We’re going to dinner and a movie.” Okay. When I returned with my jacket, only Michael was seated, alone, in the family room. “Matt and Carolyn have gone to the restaurant to hold our table, and we’re waiting for Josh.” Ten minutes later Josh arrived, peed, and off we went to the Mexican restaurant where Carolyn and Matt were finishing their dinners. We’d dropped Josh off at the theater to buy tickets. He arrived, gave Matt and Carolyn their tickets and they left to save seats in the theater. By this time it was 6:30. We had ordered and just received our meals. At 6:50 Michael called for the check and at 6:55 we were walking at speed the two blocks to the theater for a 7:00 movie. Stopped at the restrooms and were in our seats by 7:00. And there we sat through 30 minutes of previews. “So what was the hurry?” I asked Michael. “Just the way it is,” he shrugged. Sigh. My fish taco was excellent. I so rarely get to eat at a restaurant, and I had barely eaten half my dinner.

The movie was How to Train Your Dragon, an animated kid’s film, in 3-D. It was Carolyn’s choice because of the reviews it has gotten and because of the story. Again, I was assaulted by the high-decibel sound system, but it was NOT as loud as the Good Friday service. Actually, I enjoyed the movie. It is visually beautiful and it is a good story. Back home by 9:30, I was ready to go to my room. Done.

In my room I discovered that some time during the evening, my hearing aid batteries had died. During the movie, probably a good thing.

Sunday morning I was awake at 6:30. After putting on my bathing suit, I headed for the hot tub.


From there I gazed up into the sky.


And at the rising sun.


Also watched Michael hiding Easter eggs. The whole family had dyed four dozen eggs a few days previously and he was preparing for the annual Easter egg hunt—for Matt (23) and Josh (17)!

IMG_0813_edited-1 IMG_0804_edited-1

Two eggs in the shot below.


No Easter eggs in view here, just the tree house.


That done, Michael brought us coffee and joined me in the Jacuzzi until 8:40.


Did you see the Easter Egg on top of the fountain?

Then it was time for me to get ready for church. My brother picked me up at 9:20, all packed and ready to spend the day with him and his family. His church’s Easter service draws so many attendees that it is held in the Goucher College auditorium, which seats 1000 people. A splendid service of beautiful music, dance performance, orchestra, choir, and the most diverse congregation you’re likely to see anywhere. Faith Christian Fellowship is a multicultural church that, like Greater Purpose, is located in a poor, urban, mostly black neighborhood. It includes poor single moms, black families, Asians, immigrants from many countries, foreign students, PhDs, doctors, teachers, and bankers. It is a youthful congregation with lots of children and college students. I was high on young people.

Its worship services include elements from the African-American tradition, Roman Catholic, Quaker, and their founders’ Presbyterian heritages. Multicultural and finely done. The concluding choral piece was a beautifully harmonic work sung a cappella. Well done!


Throughout most of the service, which lasted from 10:00 till 12:00, I held a black, Down syndrome baby, who, with her 18-year-old sister and caretaker, have been taken under the wings of my niece’s family. They spent the day with us.

Us being 20 adults and 13 children from baby Faith to the 18-year-old triplets—my brother’s extended family, hosted by his cabinetmaker son Timm and his daughter-in-law Maggie. We feasted and talked and listened to the cello played very competently by their daughter Ellin, a student at Baltimore’s renowned School for the Arts.

Brought by brother Don and his wife Chickie, I arrived home at 5:15.

What a weekend!

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Couldn’t resist. With the cockeyed patchwork practice cloth looking at me, I had to use it for this week’s TAST stitch—the knotted buttonhole stitch.

It was hard going, stitching through the Craft Fuse and layers of fabric. At some points, I had to use pliers to get the needle through.

But this is just the beginning. What else can I do with those seams and patches?

Knotted buttonhole

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