Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The Galloping Grannies Meet the IFs

On April 16th, we had the great treat of having dinner with five self-named "Galloping Grannies" from Australia who were in New York for a few days at the start of their trip to Pennsylvania Amish Country (by train, for the view) and to the Quilt Show in Paducah, Kentucky (by plane, for the speed). Keitha, the ring leader on the far right of the photo, contacted Jean after her son met Jean in Atlanta in November and purchased a copy of our book, Life Dressing for her Christmas present. In the photo from the left are Laurel, Roslyn, Alison and Keitha. Seated next to Valerie in the photo below is the fifth Musketeer, Elaine.

When we heard they were coming to the Big Apple, we made arrangements to rendezvous for dinner. Valerie stubbed the same toe twice in one week (first on a police barricade at the Easter Parade, then on a beloved heavy old armchair only half an hour before she was to give it away). The second hit was so bad [revenge of the inanimate objects???] that she thought she'd broken it, and didn't want to hobble too far from home. So we chose a small French restaurant in her east side neighborhood (complete with Authentic French Speakers and wry French videos at the bar). Jean, the Official Greeting Committee, met the five Grannies in the lobby of their west side hotel. A sixth member of the Galloping Grannies was too exhausted from the 18-hour plane ride and two solid days of sightseeing to join us. Jean gave three of them the restaurant address and phone number and put them in a taxi before taking the remaining two with her in a second cab.

While all of the ladies are avid quilters and get together regularly to sew, many are also embroiderers, so over dinner our conversation turned to the sewing arts. We learned that the Grannies worship at the altar of Janome sewing machines, and have been Janome employees, as they not only know the tricks the machines can do, they can demonstrate how to make the machines do them. So we were not too surprised when they told us that they would be spending the next day around 38th Street and 8th Avenue, the so called sewing district. Valerie, who once took (but never finished) the millinery program at the Fashion Institute of Technology, was able to recommend several must-sees, such as M&J Trimming and Mood Fabrics (known to milliners long before it shot to fame on Project Runway). To her surprise, the ladies already knew about Habu Textiles, which stocks the most amazing yarns for weavers, knitters, felters and just plain textile enthusiasts. Much to our delight, in the textile spirit of things, Keitha gifted each of us with one of her quilted potholders. This is a close-up of Valerie's very colorful and very unusual potholder. Keitha claimed her quilting "mistake" squares were converted to potholders. Darned (pun intended) if we can find the mistakes in ours!

Friends know that cooking is not our strong suit, to put it mildly. The chance of either of us using our beautiful gifts for their intended function is "slim to none", as they say. Jean says: I joked that it was too beautiful to use and I'd have too put it on the back of a jacket or something, which elicited gales of laughter from the out-of-towners. Well, Valerie beat me at my own game, and I must admit, she did us proud. Do tell us what you think of the result.

Here's a shot of Jean's potholder. The gauntlet has been thrown. Now, the pressure is on. Whatever can I do to top Valerie's fabulously demented garment? Stay tuned, dear readers. We're nothing if not competitive. (Valerie, a literalist, takes issue with the expression. Aren't we still something, if not competitive? Valerie also suggests, since we wear hats, that Jean might try making hers into a headholder.)

One of the truly amazing benefits of writing our blog is the opportunity to meet our readers. These ladies, ranging in age from early sixties to early eighties, were vibrant, engaging, humorous and ready for anything. Their joie de vivre was contagious. The restaurant turned out to be an excellent choice. Since the city was in the grips of an early (and short-lived) heat wave, the front doors were opened to the street, so our table was practically out on the sidewalk - a people-watcher's dream come true. We were all talking so much, nobody seemed to notice the street action. Although dinner lasted three hours, time seemed to fly by. Before we knew it, we had to say goodbye to our new friends. Can't wait to hear about their trip! We hope they had a fabulous time at The American Quilters' Society Show. In fact, we hope their entire trip was marvelous!

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Valerie reports that her toe is not broken (she had it x-rayed), but even now it's a good 20% larger than normal size. It is swathed daily in bandages, and, now that Valerie's patience is wearing thin, treated twice a day with arnica gel in hopes that she can soon get back into her beloved shoes.


  1. So those are the aussies you were dining with! They look like a lively group and I'm sure they appreciated your NYC hospitality. As for the potholders, I agree, they are too nice to be used for such a mundane purpose as handling hot cookware. Valerie's idea was a good one, as for Jean's, how about a gigantic fabric neckpiece? A hat may be possible, given the fearless creativity you have demonstrated before - I wait with bated breath. Valerie, do stop kicking things!

  2. Looks like another fun and fabulous evening in the city! I am taken with Valerie's hat; love the shape and color. I see that Jean is wearing a yellow number, which is also divine.

  3. Did Jean trip in her Trippen's?

  4. What a delightful experience to meet these lively ladies from down under. What did they think of Mood and Habu etc.?

  5. Thanks Jean, mum and the other ladies had a great time. Your blog is being viewed all over southern Australia. Ray