Sunday, 25 September 2011

Off to Des Moines!

I have always had success with dyeing up until now but I was not pleased with the results when I decided to run a colour through my hair for my USA trip and it turned out much darker than the box had promised; I may have to wear my tartan hat in Des Moines! I am glad that I didn't have any last minute projects to finish because the week whizzed by as I packed up the Yurt from NEOS, put away all of the quilts, went shopping for shortbread and tried to fit everything for my classes into two smallish cases. Tania asked if I had actually packed any clothes. I attended a proper interview for the Aberdeenshire supply teaching list that I had applied for in January, where I had to answer questions about the qualities of a good primary teacher and the latest curriculum developments. That night I had to admit defeat when I could not figure out any of Freya's maths homework that involved finding angles by using algebra. I asked neighbours, Wikipedia, clever people on Facebook then ordered some textbooks from Amazon for the next time seemingly impossible homework has to be solved.
My trip to across the Atlantic went smoothly but I did not manage to tackle my overdue book draft on the plane as I was reading a good novel. Immigration was efficient and courteous at Chicago airport and I was amused to hear a man say, "How YOU doin'?" just like Joey from "Friends". I arrived safely at my hotel in Des Moines 19 hours after leaving home. I caught up on some sleep but woke early and checked emails. My morning cup of tea was not great with powdered coffee creamer but the weather was beautiful and I was going to spend a day with a quilter so I was happy.
Norma H collected me and we started off our day of touring at the downtown Farmers Market. There was wonderful fresh market produce, including pumpkins, tom-A-toes and baked goods. The atmosphere was terrific as busy shoppers stopped to chat and browse.   We got my USA phone set up for local texts and had coffee in the Barnes & Noble bookstore. After that we headed to the trendy area, Valley Junction, which had great junk and craft shops. There was a super bead emporium and we had a delicious lunch at the friendly General Store cafe. Norma took me on a whistle-stop tour of a couple of quilt shops and Creekside Quilting really stood out. It was well stocked with a great selection of fabrics and patterns - the layout and lighting were excellent and the staff members were all friendly and helpful. I managed to buy a couple of things that were not on my essentials shopping list.
Late in the afternoon we drove out to Carroll to visit the APQS factory. We drove through farmland, past ripening corn & beans and spotted quite a lot of flat wildlife at the side of the road, including possums, skunk, coyote, and a fox. I had expected APQS to be a huge industrial unit but was amazed to discover that it really is a small Iowan firm where all of the components are made locally and each machine is indeed built by hand. It was fascinating to see machines in various stages of production and all of the parts all lined up on shelves. The entire staff will be at the show on Thursday so I will be able to ask all sorts of questions and try out all of the models so that I can be up to date with all of the latest developments.
Norma and I had a delicious supper at a fish restaurant back in Des Moines then I stopped to pick up essential groceries of milk for tea and tonic water for gin. She has very kindly offered to take me out to do more sightseeing today before the AQS show organisers arrive from Paducah this evening. It is a treat to have a local guide and quilters always have plenty to talk about wherever they are in the world!

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