Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Sorry For The Silence

This year, I feel like a guinea pig or a lab rat. Not a human guinea pig because I have been put through so many tests and exams and as the dust settles, we still have no answers!

I have had some really distressing neurological things going on and have had head CT Scan, MRI, nerve testing, blood work and yet nothing is showing up. I should be jumping up and down, however when I fall out of the blue, lean over out of the blue, have lip tremors, stutter, my arms and legs shake and tremble, I forget things such as:
1-Putting a hot pan on my counter without a hot pad (guess who needs a new counter top?)
2-Fix dinner and walk away from the stove but leave the burners on.
3-Have been banned by hubby from burning real candles in house after he came home one day while I had been gone for several hours and discovered the candles burning.
4-Missed a really important meeting because I wrote it down correctly in not one but 3 places and looked at my calendar and thought it was the next day.
5-I say things that make no sense at times to anyone.
6-I don't say things I think I said and then get made when no one does what they weren't told to do that I said I did....

My docs can see things happening, but they have no idea what to do.

We began walking this summer after dinner each night and my granddaughter noticed I was wheezing and breathing hard. I said it was hot, but she was right, I have a very difficult time walking even short distances, so to the doctor for two cardiac stress tests and you guessed it...inconclusive!

We have determined that I have numerous bone spurs and severe arthritis in my neck and C-spine and while the neurologist said it would be best to do a fusion, we both decided it doesn't bother me enough at this time to do it.

Two weeks ago, I got up and my foot was painful and within a few hours it was extremely swollen to the point I was taken to the ER by hubby.  The finding? Cysts and severe arthritis in my foot and you guessed it, they want to do a fusion.

The docs took me off all my medication for pain which was no fun, that set me back weeks on doing anything but relying on family to help with even tying my shoes.

So now we start the process of adding my meds back one at a time. Have they helped by removing them? NO!

I am also undergoing physical therapy because my back hurts all the time and my surgeon wants to do a Myelogram but my insurance company says I have to go though PT first which hurts.

In addition to all of my medical issues, on July 11th we received the baby sister (9 years old) of the three grandchildren we are raising and it has caused so much stress in our home.

I now have so much empathy and understanding of how step-parents feel because this has not been the 'go with the flow,' easy mix we thought it would be.

This little girl comes with many issues that I am not sure any of us were prepared for and by the end of each evening, I am left feeling completely drained.

I hope soon to do more positive posting!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Around The Corner Comes Fall

 It is that time of year when the kids are all back in school, starting school or college and there is that old familiar chill and crispness to the air. Well, unless you live in places that are hot like Las Vegas, Phoenix, Orlando and it is still hot!

Here our summer always starts without fail on July 5th of every year and usually ends the week school starts and the rain begins and falls well into summer.

However, I love the changing of the seasons, the cool mornings with gentle fog and the promise of rain. Yes, while the calendar doesn't show it is officially fall, I know it is around the corner.

This year however, with the start of school we had a few days of rain and then back into the 80's and this week-end even more 80's.  
Normally, I would be whining about wanting my rain back this time of the year.

However I planted (well, I tossed together) a small vegetable garden and tossed in watermelons and as long as it stays warm, I may get a watermelon!

I followed a Pinterest idea and purchase several bags of mulch, cut them open and stuck some plants in them.  I have gotten 2 tomatoes and they were so tangy and tart and smelled delish!  I have had 1 yellow crook neck squash, but the plant is bursting with little ones still growing.

My peas never made it, they just died right away. Perhaps the squash killed them, I am not sure but they died quickly.  I have about 10 little bell peppers just starting and I have watched one watermelon go from the size of a pea to about the size of a golf ball.

My pride is my front flower bed and while it is still sparse, it has given me immense joy this year and gotten me outside to water it and ensure it didn't wilt.

 This is just one corner. Hubby dug all the holes for the shrubs in the back and Diva girl laid the rock and planted all of them. All of the kids helped plant the Zinnia's, Geraniums and seeds for the Bachelor Buttons (which just bloomed yesterday) and the tall green plant that I have no idea what it is, but it has no buds on it yet.

The small flowers in the back are Portaluca's or what I call Rock Roses and others call Moss Roses. The Tomboy asked to plant them and she started them in a small plastic tub and as they grew she planted them in the garden. I am impressed because all I do is water and they grow!

Here you can see some more Zinnia's, Bachelor Buttons, some Marigolds, more Portaluca's in all different colors, there are Snap Dragons and I am not sure what the yellow ones are behind the potted plants.

I was extremely upset today when I walked out and found three mole hills in this area. I have worked hard this summer to grow our little area and I will NOT allow the moles to destroy this.

Prior to our move here, the previous owner had put down ground cloth, but those moles can root right up through it, so I guess I have learned a lesson and that is to cut out all the ground cloth from this area, lay down chicken wire, cover with grub killer, put down top soil and mulch and pray the young man I hired to kill moles can get the job done!

However, I am having doubts when the first two traps set 5 days ago yielded nothing but more dirt piled on them. If my cat used the litter box instead of the out doors, I would scoop some poop and litter and put down the hole or maybe Juicy Fruit gum.

Who knows, all I know is these little monsters aren't like the easy kill gophers we had in Arizona, but I am hoping if we catch one ad stuff it down the hole it came up it may deter others....

I am open to suggestions!

Friday, September 5, 2014

When One of Your Own Has A Need

The  community of 911 communications is pretty small in comparison to many other jobs in the world and it takes someone pretty dedicated and strong willed and strong nerves to do it.

The community of law enforcement is just slightly larger, but in comparison to many other jobs, it is small.  Within the confines you will find many police officers and fire fighters married to 911 communications operators, it just goes with the territory sometimes.

When I retired from my career in 911 communications and moved to Washington and continued reaching out to our 'unseen heroes,' behind the radio and at times first responders, I always knew in the back of my mind, sooner or later I would be making a quilt for someone I worked with.

Little did I realize I would be making a quilt for an officer who is engaged to a 911 operator that I trained.  I worked with both of these people and they are pretty special.

The one memory I have that sticks out is that while she was a trainee, I had him call in a bogus call of someone that was mentally ill to see how she could handle the situation.  No! I wasn't picking on the mentally ill,  I put my trainee's through many varying situations.

He calls and tells her there are people in his back yard and while she is asking the questions, he tells her they are purple and getting out of a tiny space ship.  The look on her face was priceless, but she kept probing for information and he kept going and then hung up.

Without giving it a thought, she immediately followed protocol and called him back. By then, she knew it was a training exercise because he couldn't keep from laughing and I was trying hard not to.

The officer had a kidney removed that was cancerous years ago and now, his remaining kidney is failing and he can no longer work while he does home dialysis and waits for a kidney.

The quilt I have been working on for the past month or so will go to him. I felt it took so long to make because God knew this officer would have a need for it. I feel blessed to do this for such a dedicated man!

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Layers of Hope Address and No Reply Bloggers

I hope this helps all of you to mail your quilts off a bit quicker.

I have added an icon on the right side of this blog that will take you to the mailing address for your quilts.

With that said HOWEVER...I cannot respond to your questions if you chose to be a 'NO REPLY,' blogger and do NOT leave me with a way to contact you.  This not only causes my heart to break, but at times it causes hard feelings because quilters feel I am ignoring them when I am not, I just cannot respond back to your questions.

If you are not aware you are a 'NO REPLY, ' blogger, please go to this link and follow the instructions to check and see:

If you are worried I will spam you, I promise I will not. You can leave your email in your question as an example:

  1. jane dot doe @yahoo dot come
  2. janedoe at
  3. janedoe at yahoo dot com
 Just please give me some way to reach you.  If you need to respond, you can directly email me on the link on the right side of this page.

When we were collecting quilts for Oso, I had an instance of someone being a no reply, I left them a message on the post comment they left, I answered in a separate post and on my Facebook page. What I got in return was hostility for not responding, however I had responded the only way I could.

So please, if you need the address, it is all over this blog, you can check us out on Facebook, however if you choose to respond anonymously with just a name and no way to reply, I will not this time go that extra mile to contact you as it takes up more time than anyone will ever imagine.

My email is 

An Oso Thank You

'I want all of the quilters to know how much you are appreciated, even more than words can express. You greatly helped with the healing process post Oso Mudslide, and you continue to help with the Carlton fire survivors. I have family in the Methow Valley. They do not have the access or facilities we were privileged to have on this side of the mountains. I can tell you that every quilt you make is very much needed and greatly appreciated. Thank you for all you do.'

The above note is from Lisa Smith an amazing volunteer for the HUB which was on the Arlington side of the Oso Landslide, Lisa was there daily reaching out to others.

Lisa also has family in the area of the wildfires, so I think it is important to know your quilts matter to those that receive them~!

Now Come the Mudslides For Eastern Washington, We Need Those Quilts

First came the horrible wildfires in the eastern part of Washington recently especially bad was the Carlton fire. Now, as our state is beginning to turn the corner from summer to fall, as predicted the rain is falling and falling hard in this area and with the rain after the fires has come flooding and now mudslides. 

Our governor has had to file an appeal with FEMA and President Obama because they so far are refusing any aide to this area that has been so devastated and the quilt shelves here at Layers of Hope Quilting 911 sadly have few quilts left.

We have 133 quilts and of those 70 are infant sized leaving us with 63 quilts of which are adult and lap sized, we are in desperate need for adult sized quilts in unisex colors and we need them ASAP.

We were blessed to have someone volunteer to deliver this coming week, however, how can we send just a few? Who would we chose to receiving them and how would those feel who get left out?

So many of you were amazing and reached out  during the Oso landslide and we gathered 500 quilts of which over 300 were delivered to the areas of Arlington, Oso and Darrington.  

The 133 we have on hand were those left over when we were told our commitment to this area was completed. So back into the closets and we wait to pass them out to those in need in other areas.

Today, I have completed 10 handwritten notes to quilters who have supported us in the past. I am asking all of you, please, if you cannot send a quilt at this time, just grab our button on the sidebar and pass it around to quilters, knitters and crocheters that you know, help me get the word out.

I am one person, together, we are many!!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Faces of Hope

It has been a long journey for those who lost their homes, all their possessions, their animals, family and friends in the horrific landslide that occurred in Oso, WA this year.

Sad to say until then, I don't ever recall hearing about Oso, after all it is such a tiny little place where neighbors help neighbors, everyone knows everyone and they help each other out.  If you blinked, you would miss it driving through the beautiful country side.

My first visit up there, I met three incredible women...Joy, Irma and Pastor Sandy who are just the most amazingly loving people and so full of joy and compassion. 

I met Joy first, looking for someone to help me out with a quilt contact in Oso, Joy's son in Texas was raising money for a family, I contacted him and within minutes Joy and I were on the phone talking and making plans.

The first trip up there, we met at the local Dairy Queen parking lot and with Joy was Irma, a spunky woman who lights up when she is talking to you like you are family and with these three women, you feel like family.

Joy and Irma were our guides that day (myself and Tomboy granddaughter). Our first stop was at the local funeral home who were part of burying those gone. The look on the funeral director's face was of shock and surprise as I don't think anyone had ever thought of what they go through during these times, burying so many.

The Marysville fire department was next and a few tears from those men when they realized the quilts were for them and their brothers and sisters that were first on scene.  Without knowing it I was told my hands formed a heart. Maybe it because as a retired dispatcher I have so much love in my heart for first responders.

We then drove to Oso and dropped off quilts for survivors and fire personnel. Joy had been there the week prior and dropped off a bunch at that time as well as dropping off enough quilts for every chaplain that got on scene and remained.  We need to always remember those first responders whether they be volunteers or not.

We then continued our drive up through the devastation and to say I cried most of the way, while granddaughter took photos is an understatement, my heart was torn up.
 Unless you were there driving through the area, smelling the nauseating smells, seeing the horrible carnage, watching it on the television trust me when I say, you will never understand.  We didn't get up there for at least a month, but you could still feel the heaviness and there were still bodies buried that I am now able to say have all been recovered.

These people will never rebuild, they will never get their lives back the way they were a week, day or even minutes before the mountain came sliding down.  Many I am told, have left the area for lack of housing availability or pain.

We were able to have lunch this first day with Pastor Sandy at the Darrington UMC, a tiny church consisting of mainly older parishoners, but with a small package of joyful dynamite as a pastor, she told us about the loss, how hard it was to have to drive all the way around for jobs (employers didn't cut people any slack), and how much she was working with families and volunteers.

The granddaughter walked away that day with an understanding of how lives can be changed in a blink of an eye and she wrote a paper about it.

The quilts kept arriving, we kept rearranging the house to make more room. Tons of infant and baby quilts arrived and we delivered those that were requested, but the population up in Oso didn't have that many little ones, so we donated a box full to Quilts of Compassion right after the tornadoes hit this year. We knew they would have a huge need and we wanted to bless others as well.

When we were leaving the church, Pastor Sandy and Irma began talking chickens. Seems that these two ladies raise chickens and when they get together, well, lets just say Joy calls them the crazy chicken ladies!

The next trip up two weeks later, I took Diva girl and we delivered to the Arlington PD who were also on scene and lost family friends. Remember, Oso is the mid-point between Arlington and Darrington and it cut many people off!
These men and women were very excited when the quilts came in and thank you to the officers and my diva girl for carrying them in for me.  The quilt they chose to hold up reminds me that this tragedy will never dim their resolve to move forward!

We delivered more to the Arlington Fire Department:
These men were so amazed that we were bringing them gifts, but they were so happy to stop for a few minutes and talk to us about Oso.

We also delivered more to the funeral home in Arlington that took care of family and friends they grew up  with and came to love and even for them who deals with death, this was different.

Another amazing women I met was Jana Hecla who had been reaching out and helping since day one and if you have never met the Ever Ready Bunny, let me tell you this it she! From dawn to deep into the night, Jana drove her and her granddaughter non-stop to pick up supplies, food, over the mountain into Seattle, it didn't matter if they had a need Jana was there! On this day, she received a quilt for herself and her granddaughter. She cried, only this time, I told her...'no tears, I didn't want my mascara to run!'

By this time, I knew the routine to get over the mountain to Darrington and we arrived in line just in time to go with the caravan. We met up with a couple from Pastor Sandy's church to drop off more quilts and then to the community center to drop off 65 handmade fleece blankets.

We were starving and were told Burger Barn made the best burgers and shakes in Darrington. We found out later they are the O N L Y burger place in Darrington so they would make the best. They were fantastic and got us food in time to get us back over the mountain.

We knew we were going to make another trip to volunteer at the Oso Caring fund raiser, but this time we were not only giving quilts but our time.
 The picture above is myself with one of the volunteers that showed up to help at The Hub and was there everyday, she gave us a tour, talked about reaching out and helping others, it was an amazing thing to know so many people care! Of course the oldest grand wanted in on it as well!
Our delivery this day was for a specific number of quilts that were going directly to survivors! I didn't want to leave. During times like these I always want to be involved and help where I can!

This lady is a local fire volunteer and came up to thank me for the quilts and all we did to let everyone know they were loved! I explained this is NOT me, this is God's ministry and I have a quilting army that went beyond my wildest dreams!

The area has changed. There will be no more homes built, the mountain I am hearing will probably slide again one day and when it does, my prayer is no one will be in the area.

Saturday, once again we made the trip back up to Darrington, this time for a picnic we had been invited to and for a surprise for Pastor Sandy who in spite of what people believe about the still working to help families and friends, still counseling the survivors and volunteers, still daily driving for miles to reach people.

This time, thanks to Sue of The Magpie's Nest in Mt. Vernon, Pastor Sandy was getting her own quilt, one with chickens on it and this time, she wasn't going to be able to say no...

I couldn't show these before because I was concerned somehow someone would find them and show Pastor Sandy, but Sue did an amazing job and you can find out more about Sue at:
Sewing Magpie blog, so stop by and tell her Jean from Layers of Hope sent you over to say hello!

On our way up, we stopped in Marysville, at the DQ again only we were picking up quilts from a lady whose cousin lives in Texas, but brought her out the quilts on a visit to be picked up by myself.

These beautiful quilts or handsome since they are all for males were made by the San Antonio Modern Quilt Guild and the one I am holding was made by Sarah Jimenez, who contacted me to let me know where I could pick them up!

Karen and her dog lucky are just another two wonderful and amazing people/animals I can add to this journey of those I would love to sit and visit with for hours!

Oh how I wish this picture really captured the sheer joy and squeals that came out of this amazing lady of God when she turned this quilt over and realized it was full of chickens. I thought she was going to hug all the air out of me, she was so happy.

This is what this ministry is about, this is what all of you are about, bringing joy and warmth to people during their darkest hours, in the midst of pain and shock and confusion, you are reaching out and bringing a piece of home to them, you are giving them something they can start a new chapter of their life with and it matters!

I cannot possibly hug all of you, but if I could, I would and someday I want to take a journey to meet some of you and share an hour of your life to let you know that:

You Matter!  You Make a Difference! You Touch Lives and Hearts!
Through all their loss and pain, you let them know people care, strangers care and the world is not all full of the bad news we see everyday.

These are the faces of tragedy, but they are also the faces of resolve and hope.  The yellow ribbons no longer line the bridge to Oso, the fire department is no longer full of people, but the people are moving forward.

Please, we have a great need for quilts for the Washington Wildfire families, look at these faces and know you do make a difference and reach out.

Quilts can be sent to me:
Jean Kester 18740 Ivan Street SW Rochester, WA  98579

Check out our needs at:
Layers of Hope - Quilting 911 Washington Wildfire Quilts