I left on Valentines day and flew to Fresno, CA via brief stops in Phoenix, Salt Lake and Seattle. Flying to smaller cities is complicated sometimes. That particular day of flying will always be a favorite though, because the western skies were beautifully clear. I saw gorgeous aerial views of Sedona, AZ, The Grand Canyon, the mountains of the Wasatch Front, the Great Salt Lake, the major volcanoes of the Cascades, including Mt. Hood, and Mt. Rainier. These are all places I've visited or lived, and it made me very grateful and emotional about the beauty of the earth and the many opportunities I've had to see and experience so many of those beauties. Here are some of the pictures I was able to get from the plane.
In Fresno, I was picked up at the airport by my dear friend Mikelle and two of her kids. It was so good to see her after 2 years. They used to live here and we miss them still. I spent a cozy, comfortable Saturday night and Sunday with them. During church someone sitting behind us thought I was related to them because of the way we were interacting, and that made me happy because I sure love them like family. I adore my siblings so much, but none of them live nearby, so I miss them. It's become important to me to have local connections that fill the tiny holes in my heart caused by all the miles between me and my blood relations. This family did that for me while they lived here, and the relationship is still a treasured one.
Sunday afternoon I got to visit with a friend I haven't seen in probably 10 years. He served here as a missionary in 2002 and I got to know him working in church together. We've emailed occasionally over the years and once he and his wife stayed with us. I discovered that he is living in the Fresno area and asked him if he might be able to come by. He did and we had a sweet hour and a half together catching up on his fine family. We still get along well and I hope with my Central Valley connections, I may be able to see him again sooner rather than later.
Sunday I made my way to the lovely small town of Le Grand, CA. It's the seat of Gillette Ranch and the home of my friend and business partner Gwen. We were going to go skiing, but money and a lack of snow put the kibosh on that. Instead we spent 2 days hard at work on our website. We worked on patterns, photography, class handouts, and had time to discuss a lot of details about how to improve. We ran a webinar for our local yarn shop members and it was great to see what the questions are and learn how we can really serve their best interests. I set up shop in the screen porch, and it was pretty much paradise to be working in the open air while watching the sun against the blue skies of the San Joaquin Valley.
Wednesday we got to see a presentation by the wonderful and inspiring Amy Cuddy. You can see her TED talk here. She spoke about being present in any situation and how our body language contributes to that. I found her original talk very meaningful, and this one was great as well. We went with Gwen's mom and dad and it was the perfect way to kick off our Stitches Weekend, with ideas about power posing and handling any situation feeling comfortable in one's own skin. Someday when I'm not writing a big summary, I'd like to write more about her ideas.
After the lecture, we packed up and drove across the winter-green hills of California to Santa Clara. I've driven these roads before with Gwen and when I got to New Zealand in December, the vistas there reminded me of central and Northern California. Now it's the other way around. These hills made me viscerally homesick for New Zealand. I was happy that the memories of that trip are still so readily accessible.
Thursday-Sunday was Stitches West 2015 in Santa Clara, CA. I taught a brand new 3-hour class that went really well, and I taught a favorite class that's becoming tried and true. I also taught my usual group of 1-hour Market Sessions. Some of those were new as well and definitely need a few kinks worked out. It's actually more challenging to teach a 1-hour class than it is a 3 hour, because I have to trim the content just right to get in all the essentials but still make things interesting. Overall, the evaluations were good, though I will do a few revisions.
One highlight of this Stitches was the fact that my dear friend Beth and I made time to walk every morning. We explored the San Francisco Bay Trail that winds near our hotel. We saw many snails of all different colors and sizes. There were water birds and beautiful bits of nature woven right through the campuses of major tech companies. It's a little piece of heaven during a busy working weekend.
Talking with her is always a happy thing.
Monday morning, bright and early, I flew to Utah to see the kids for about 36 hours. What a delight. We all got together Monday night for Family Home Evening at Jeff and Ashlyn's and played some games. That afternoon and most of the day Tuesday there was plenty of time for soaking in the loveliness that is my granddarling. I got to be a guest in the homes of my two married sons and spend a little more time appreciating my brave and hardworking daughters-in-law. I got to take some photos of my third son and his fiance. I was able to be a sounding board for my youngest as he prepares to serve a 2-year mission for our church. It was a good two days.
Bookended onto the time with my kids were three amazing chance encounters that lifted my heart and reminded me of how much we are known and loved by Heavenly Father. By the end of any Stitches weekend, my energy is a little low, and my mind is a little burdened as I analyze all my classes and make my list of what needs to be done before the next show. Sometimes I'm downright exhausted. I was in this kind of mindframe as I got off the light rail from SLC airport and made my way toward the train to Provo. Suddenly I heard a cheerful, sunny exclamation of my name and I recognize immediately the voice of my dear friend Melody. What a treat. She moved out of our area about 6 months ago and I haven't really seen her since. We got a lovely, golden 90 minutes to visit while we waited for then rode the train. She was doing just as I was--visiting her kids in Provo on her way to her next destination. Seriously, it was just what I needed.
Tuesday afternoon, I happened to catch a cc'd reply to an email my husband sent to my friend Cathy. She is currently living and working out of the country, but has connections in Provo. I didn't even think to investigate a visit with her, but this email revealed that she just happened to be in Utah right now, so I called her immediately and was able to set up a brief visit. Seriously, what are the chances?? She was also exactly who I needed to talk to. Especially after catching up with my kids and getting some perspective on some of the challenges they face. I'm so proud of them, but it's hard to parent from a distance sometimes. Harder in certain ways than when they were home, because I can't control any of the circumstances or choices they make. I can only try to influence and support with love.
In the morning, still with lots on my mind, I made my way back to the airport. Once again, a tender mercy came down from heaven. As I was checking in at the airport with 3 hours to spare, I got a text from yet another dear-but-distant friend. After I got through security, I found an empty gate and got to talk to her for almost an hour. I felt so loved, so buoyed up, so understood. It mattered that I had contact with all these people
After a strong tailwind pushed our plane across 1800 miles in 3 hours and 20 minutes, I was picked up by my pal Kimberly and I came home to my cozy, book-and-yarn-filled house. I do love this view.
I have no travel for 2 months and I'm not sorry about that. It will be good to be home for a while.