Sunday, 2 May 2010

The Wonders of Walmart / The End of the Road Trip

The Wonders of Wal-Mart / The End of the Road Trip...

I spent Sunday finishing off the quilting on my Yurt panel then decided to paint on some metallic lime green funky stars. I continued creating "departments" in Bonnie's studio such as stationery and ironing... she will never be able to find anything again without emailing me to ask where I have stashed it. We made a short trip out in the rain for milk and Schweppes tonic and spotted an old chest of drawers at the side of the road so we made a u-turn and picked it up for Bonnie's husband, Gene to revamp in his workshop.

On Monday we went back to Kingston and revisited Style Fabrics, Joann's, Michael's Crafts and Wal-Mart where we could pick up some half decent fabric for $2.44 a yard. I had to have a yard of Western bandana fabric just in case I have time to make an American a quilt when I have run out of other projects. Wal-Mart is an interesting place to watch people... there were various velour tracksuits worn by well endowed ladies, packets of ready meals that are not available in the UK, a vast choice of BBQ sauces, car tyres and air rifles.  Bonnie started to practice with her new Circle Lord that she picked up from the tiny post office in Elizaville and I gave my painted stars extra legs so that they looked like spinners then gave them all 3 coats of lime green lumiere. We also had great fun testing out the new Simplicity bias binding machine that folds and irons at great speed.

Bonnie had to dash into Albany to collect Siana from school for an appointment on Tuesday so we stayed behind to work on projects. Tracy pieced a wall hanging together for her new grandson and I faffed, trying to decide how to embellish my yurt panel. I just could not decide how to add definition to the green spinners. I used the machine to embroider around a couple of spinners then spent ages unpicking because it did not look right. If I had stopped prevaricating all day and had the right thread, I could have chain stitched around all of the spinners by hand. I blame the Internet for causing further distractions – there was plenty of table top space in the studio for all of us to be online and surfing at the same time. Sitting at the 1960's basement bar with a Gin & Tonic was just like being at an Internet cafe. Supper that evening was tasty oven fried chicken legs with cowboy biscuits (like scones) and white gravy.

On Wednesday, after collecting a Yurt panel parcel from Kristina in Nevada from the post office, we drove the scenic route to Albany via Kinderhook where we passed the historic houses once inhabited by Benedict Arnold and General Burgoyne from the American War of Independence. The twisty country roads made Tracy feel queasy so we stopped at Cracker Barrel for an early lunch. We shared a burger and I had root beer because I think it is such an American drink that I would never have in Scotland. We found ourselves in Joann's for the fourth time in a week and had to pick up a few more pens and hot fix crystals. We wandered around the mall for a while we waited to collect Siana from a homework assignment and Tracy even had a manicure at a nail bar. We packed cases during the evening and removed unnecessary packaging in order to distribute the weight evenly. Tracy actually had to buy an extra holdall but mine were OK. I was not sure how much my yurt panels would weigh so I was careful not to buy anything weighty. Tracy tried to buy the extra baggage allowance online but the computer messed her booking up so that she was not able to book ANY extra bags at all. She was concerned that she would be charged heavily at the airport.

After checking the Elizaville post office for Yurt packages on more time, we loaded the car up with our luggage and went for lunch at the 1956 fully restored Elizaville Diner where I enjoyed another splendid Pastrami Reuben with sauerkraut, coleslaw and French fries. It seems to have been rather a foodie trip for me – I think this is probably what I need to get me in the right frame of mind for serious dieting when I get back home! The traffic was busy for most of the route through New Jersey to Newark Liberty International Airport, a grandiose title for a miserable transit depot. We arrived early in case there was any hassle with excess baggage but we didn't have to pay any extra since we got a dispensation for "being disrupted". The British Airways terminal was being remodelled so there was very little there. We fancied a bowl of chilli before we boarded but the chilli concession had run out of chilli! To make matters worse, there was no Wi-Fi so we couldn't even waste time surfing the Internet. I asked if it might be possible to charge up my American mobile phone so I could let Bonnie know that we were all checked in. To my amazement, I was waved into the secure section where all of the staff were chatting and face-booking on their Blackberries. I kept expecting a SWAT team to descend and interrogate me while I plugged my phone into a power socket surrounded by bored security staff. They said they liked my boots.

We dozed uncomfortably on the late overnight flight and arrived bleary-eyed at Heathrow more than 8 hours later after circling around for a while. Delays make me nervous – every time I have to land or experience any turbulence wobbles I grip the arms of the seat with white knuckles. This could be problematic if I start travelling more. I may have to undergo hypnosis or take a sleeping pill or just drink more gin. After wandering around Terminal 5 like zombies we boarded the last small pane to Glasgow. A noisy crowd pushed their way to the front.  Everyone tutted as there was no club or first class section on this aircraft. It turned out to be Whitney Houston and her entourage who were going to perform in Glasgow. Let's just say that she is no longer as glamorous as she was in her heyday and she looked a touch glazed to me – maybe she doesn't like flying either. I stayed overnight with Tracy and unwound with a G&T an epic 24-hour journey. She had quite a bit to unpack and fit into her sewing room...

The next morning I travelled back to Aberdeen on the very basic Megabus, surrounded by Rangers football fans all drinking Buckfast cider and vodka, discussing transfer deals, fights and getting "steamin'" drunk the night before. I was lucky that none of them threw up before they got off for their away match at Dundee. My husband, children and cat were all delighted to see me and very pleased with their American souvenirs, multi-coloured goldfish crackers and candy.

I unpacked slowly on Sunday and felt sick after eating Hershey's chocolate with my coffee. I was only eating chocolate to perk me up a bit since I had still been wide awake at 1.30am but I should have stuck to Cadbury's or my last bag of peanut M&Ms. It took me a long time to sort out all of my receipts and bills and I tried not to think too much about how hard I will have to work to pay for my extended trip. I don't suppose travel insurance covers trips to Joann's Fabrics. The best unwrapping of all was opening up the Yurt panels and letting them relax on my Milli frame after their long travels by post or plane. I will have to work very hard to get them all joined together but there are plenty of them now. It won't be a disaster if I don't finish every bit of quilting and embellishment for the launch at Loch Lomomd. It will be a project that continues to grow and develop. I have had a couple of new makers step up this week and ask to take part. I still have 3 to finish off but they can be added later and hang inside. I hung LSD in the studio with the ribbon from Cathy Franks and found places for my new thread, pencils and magnetic pin dish, as well as the other latest gadgets that every quilter "must" have. Now I have to write myself a long TO DO list for the week ahead.

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