Monday, October 18, 2010

Happiness with Helen

I have had the loveliest week!  I told you that my good friend Helen was coming to visit all the way from the UK, didn't I?  We had a nonstop week of quilt and art-filled fun.  So, what did we do, you ask?

Well, I greeted Helen at the airport and welcomed her to San Francisco by accidentally subjecting her to a 3-hour-and-45-minute stop in the middle of a massive traffic jam (Welcome to California!) on our way home.  I had somehow managed to forget that it was the start of Fleet Week, the Blue Angels were flying over SF that afternoon, there was a breast cancer awareness marathon taking place in Golden Gate Park... the result of which was traffic stopped dead as we tried to cross the city to get over the Golden Gate Bridge.  Helen did get to stand up in the car, upper body half out of the sunroof, to take pictures of the  Blue Angels.  And of course we chatted nonstop.  Here's one of Helen's Blue Angels shots:

We headed out to Bishop's Ranch for the twice-yearly quilting retreat I attend with a wonderful group of friends.  I was not surprised that Helen was very well liked -- she fit right in.  I have to confess that I didn't get any pictures of Helen actually sewing, but I can attest to the fact that she got an amazing number of things done.  She also took time to enjoy lounging on the pavilion's porch, enjoying magazines and soaking up the vineyard views that are so wonderful there.  ("I'm not just at a great retreat," she said at one point, "I'm at a great retreat IN CALIFORNIA!")

(Note the stunning green shoes....)   Helen was inspirational to be with -- she saw quilting ideas everywhere.  On the way to the ranch one morning, we stopped so Helen could photograph a local barn for the quilting line possibilities.

The weather was warm enough to eat dinner outside most nights, which seem quintessentially wine country:

(Oops, didn't realize when I took this that the camera was set for artfully shallow depth of field.)  That's Pat M, Eleanor hiding behind her, Helen, Pam M, and Mary Lou. 

From the ranch, we headed down the peninsula to see Pacific International Quilt Festival.  It was interesting to get Helen's take on an American quilt show -- she was surprised at how the vendor booths had so many little bundles of fat quarters and patterns.  But we spent a day and a half cruising the booths, admiring the quilts, and generally having a grand time.  Helen was quite pleased that we continued to run into people she knew from the ranch retreat, so she felt like she kept bumping into friends.  
And from there, we headed to San Francisco for a day of relaxing.  From her last visit to California, Helen had fond memories of visiting the National Park Service's Warming Hut, a small bookshop and cafe located almost under the Golden Gate Bridge.  Since it was a gray, drizzly day, we returned there loaded up with our books and magazines and journals and spent several wonderfully peaceful hours sitting there sipping hot beverages, watching the people, and staring into space.  

After a typically San Francisco dinner at an old restaurant on Fisherman's Wharf (cioppino for me, petrale sole for Helen), Helen retreated to her hotel and I headed home to Sonoma County.  Helen had a shopping day planned before she flew out, and it was time for me to resume my Mom and Wife duties back at home.  

But what a delightful time we had!  If this is how much fun 2 "Twelves" can have together, imagine when more of us get together! 

So now it's back to real life -- but with some delightful new fabrics (I got some new Kaffe Fassett prints for a new quilt for our bed) and other goodies.... I'll do show and tell soon! 


  1. That sounds and looks like a great visit! Now I want to come too! (Though I'm still holding out for a bunch of 12s to come to Hawaii!)

  2. Helen is just too much fun! I had such a great time with her and Dennis at dinner in Birmingham - what a sense of humor! What a treat to spend time together.