It’s Fair Week

Our county fair is happening this week and all year I have hoped to take some plants to the open flower show.  I have shown you the night blooming cereus several times when it bloomed and if my calculations are correct, I think that this bloom will open about tomorrow during the judging time.  Wouldn’t that be something?

But here’s the glitch.  I am accepting a 4th dog tomorrow morning, a chocolate lab who has never been here.  Bentley arrives every morning for day care (while his owners work at the fair) around 7:15 – his owners just open the gate and he runs in where Tucker and Jackson are waiting for him.  Rick just left for Chicago and won’t be home till Friday night and I just can’t leave all these dogs here without adult supervision, even in the kennels.  So I’m going to smile and know that I’m helping 4 families enjoy their vacations.

Here are some “action” shots – none of them are great photography but you’ll see why and you’ll get the idea of our daily routine.  As Michelle said last night – Bentley was all “Tuckered” out.

And Telly had enough of that nonsense.

We have spent hours on the porch.  Bentley watches every squirrel that makes a move.

And if anybody drives by, stops at the mailbox or opens the gate, this is the scene in the porch.  Rox finally joins in when she can’t stand the suspense any longer.

Another porch scene – do you think he likes me?

Connie is busy having Grandma Camp – one day was a sewing day, one day was an art class, one day they were going to make a pie and tomorrow they are flying into Chicago for a Harry Potter book celebration.  Grandma Connie is taking her famous witch hat.  Here is Connie with Rex and Grace.  They are growing up way too fast.

One more tidbit of news.  This is Rick’s last trip to Chicago – or anywhere.  He is retiring from trucking August 1.  After Mary Harwood died last July, it became very clear to him that life is short and it can be very unpredictable – he gave his notice the following week.  Frankly we have never lived together 24/7.  If you hear of a news report out of Garner, Iowa that reads something like Wife Kills Husband For Having the TV Turned Up So Loud, you might see my name mentioned.  

No dogs here next week – just a husband.  Wish me luck.

69 thoughts on “It’s Fair Week

  1. Moe Baly

    Hi Mary, oh I’m so happy for Rick! Congratulations to him, I know it’s a difficult decision to make, but it’s a great one. Jay and I are together 24/7 now so when the time comes we think we’ll have an opposite problem, of not being together! Love all your posts and your photos ! Moe

    1. CountryThreads Post author

      San – guess what? He has them but “they’re too hot or they’re a nuisance or…….” Get my drift? Hope he’s not reading this.

  2. Kim

    Retirment is not for sissies! With any luck at all, you and Rick will be so busy doing all of the things you have always done and then some, you won’t have time to dream of murder, lol, although there are times…

  3. Heather k

    Great news on Rick’s retirement – hopefully he has plenty of hobbies to keep him out of your hair enough to make it fun

  4. Felicia Hamlin

    You are so funny Mary! I don’t think you could even kill a cockroach. Congratulations to your husband on his retirement. I enjoyed your pictures with the dogs. Felicia

  5. Lee Hardwick

    How great that Rick is retiring! You have so many chores to do, probably will get along fine! We’ve survived 16 yrs so far, haven’t been in the paper yet! Enjoy your time together.

  6. Beth T.

    Congratulations/good luck with the retirement! I found that having a garden to weed was a great help with the sudden, constant togetherness when my sweetheart decided to work from home after working mostly out-of-state for several years. It was excellent to have a place to go and I took care of a lot of one-sided conversations there. 🙂 Fifteen years later, we can laugh about it, so I guess it was a good system.

  7. Diane

    PS–A friend’s wife told his she married him “for better or worse, but not for lunch” so he got a part time job!!!

  8. Diane

    Ahhh yes, the retired hubby:) We retired at almost the same time. Luckily, he is a woodworker and the official gardener:) Do give each other “at home alone time”, I think that really helps. I go to Quilt Guild, shopping etc; he gets beer with the “boys”. Costco hearing aids helped the LOUD volume on the TV. They were about half price there.

    The dogs look like it’s a sniff marathon–soooo funny. I love to hear how everyone is doing. Enjoy. Diane

  9. Claudia Voorhees

    Congrats to Rick on his retirement…. ! A whole new chapter. I am planning my retirement…it will be a little while yet… but… I can’t wait !
    Enjoy !!

  10. Kate Schloemer

    Oh how I remember when my husband retired. It was difficult at first but once we got into a routine it was certainly better. We full time RV’d for 14 years after he retired. We got off the road and he passed away 2 years later. So enjoy each day as the last of your life and everything will work out great.

    1. Lee Hardwick

      So sorry for your loss. RV ing must have been quite an adventure, we think about it sometimes.

  11. Cathy

    Congratulations to Rick & retirement. My husband retired 2 years ago & honestly, I was so ready for him to do so. It got to the point that Sunday evenings he was the hardest, grouchiest person to be around because he was going to have to go back to work on Monday. I finally told him his attitude either had to change or I refused to be around him. Luckily, he is a guy who can’t sit still very long & has plenty of things to keep him busy so he isn’t underfoot much. The only bad time is when it is raining or extremely cold & he is in the house during the day. He will have the tv on & I am not a daytime watcher. That does make me batty. Thank goodness for being able to go to my quilt studio. Love seeing the furry kids & all their antics. They are so lucky to have you looking after them.

  12. Launa

    Mary……The first week my husband retired he’d find me in the house and ask, “Is it lunch time yet?” Other retired wives had warned me about that. You know he loves to cook..anyway we finally decided to do our own tasks and meet at 11 AM in the kitchen for a latte or coffee…and make our plans for the day. It took him 2 hours on the ride on to just mow the lawn. Then he’d occasionally get called to fill in for vacations…and after a year he started a consulting business and that was great. After a couple more years we downsized and moved closer to our sons and their families. He now plays golf 4 times a week and I quilt and it’s been great. Seems like we have more medical appts. now, too.
    Last week I came to the family room, looked at him and thought he was asleep…I kept asking him if he wanted a coffee as I had the Keurig going….no answer…and I finally walked over as I almost thought he’d passed on……..he had his eyes closed and was listening with ear buds to something on his I Pad…whew…… we’ve managed thru nearly 58 years.
    Your work load will lessen a bit…..Congratulations to Rick on his retirement.
    Love seeing the lucky dogs who come to be babysat by you. Our little granddog is here and just lolling around in this triple degree weather. The forest fires in CA have given us horrible unsafe air, too…..lots of soot particles in the air.
    I’d asked before about the plant with the huge oblong pods you bought on your outing with Connie a few months ago…..where those wonderful shrimp and goodies were in the Bloody Marys. Is it blooming yet? Looking forward to you and Connie’s new book this FALL, my friend……

    1. CountryThreads Post author

      Launa – the pitcher plant is having a tough time. I moved it outside in the heat and humidity but the “pitchers” are turning brown. It is a tropical plant and probably hard to grow but I’ll continue trying. The plant itself is very healthy but the pitchers are dying. Any advice?

  13. Judy

    O MY GOODNESS! I was so laughing OUT loud after reading your post. Then I started reading the comments and I was laughing in BURSTS! Reality is SO funny!!! Once retirement kicks in Rick will wonder how he ever had time to work!!! Yeah – NO shadowing at our house. My new favorited line when he asks what I am going to do today: “I am still deciding, but YOU ARE FREE TO DO WHATEVER YOU WANT!” Not sure why he has to be reminded, but he does. Last night he asked me when I was leaving for quilt bee. I did not snap his head off, just said, “When I walk out the door.”
    Oh and when the tension rises and he is hurrying himself and wanting to leave, or do something, or accomplish something, I draw the line when the tension comes over to me. I hear myself relaying another reminder, “I am retired. I do not have to keep your pace. If you want to keep that pace, go ahead, but I may not join you. YOU ARE FREE TO DO WHATEVER YOU WANT!”
    I am not so sure it frees him all the time, but I know it frees ME.
    Happy Happy new season of life to Y’ll!
    Hugs from Texas!

    1. CountryThreads Post author

      Judy – I’m with you – I am not going to turn into a pal. I will do my own thing – I have lived independently for too long!

  14. Mary Adams

    Congrats on his retirement! I retired 2-1/2 yrs ago and have enjoyed every single day. Recommend it for anyone who can afford to do it.

  15. Carolyn

    Somewhere in our marriage I explained to my husband the same thing I told my jr high students….I am not your maid or your mother. That statement has served me well for years. I retired from teaching in 2008 and he says he may never retire (has a family owned business his dad started in 1946). I always dread weekends and three day weekends last forever. I do have my sewing/rug hooking room and he has his woodworking shop. Now if he could afford a cook 24/7 life would be good. Best of luck! It will be an adjustment. If he doesn’t have a hobby encourage him to find one…wood carving, but not quilting.

  16. Lisa Kogan

    Happy to hear Rick gets to spend some time with his honey, dogs and critters on the farm. Mary’s death has got me targeting my retirement date and i’m not working a day longer. It was a good lesson.

    When I read your headline to Serge, he laughed, cuz that same headline occurs here in Stacy, MN! But no deaths yet!

  17. Julianna

    I think the Headline should read “Two VERY smart people got their priorities straight”
    You can never go back, Mary, but you can charge straight ahead as you do w/so many thing. You’ll get into the groove and you’ll both have ME time and WE time. Enjoy!

  18. Paula

    Glad you are almost thru the week. I think you will love Rick being home for good.
    Paula in KY

  19. Dorothy Sheldrake

    You just gave me a wonderful laugh. I’m still smiling.
    When Rick says he hears just fine, remember there are husbands all over that “hear just fine”. The real problem is that we just mumble. LOL

  20. Ann Barlament

    Love the intensity of the dogs looking out the door!!

    I remember when my dad retired…he drove my mom nuts because he always wanted to help her. I suggested to let him…one Saturday she was having lunch with her cousins, at a nearby restaurant. Dad wanted to clean a bag of carrots, so she set everything out for him. When she got home, 4 hours later, he was still cleaning carrots! LOL

    Sometimes it was the only time she had to herself, when he wanted to “help out”!

  21. Kathy

    I’m glad you mentioned the name of the plants you grow, the night blooming cereus. I have several plants that I started from a leaf compliments of a neighbor. The blooms differ…one is a bright yellow and the others are various shades of pink. The blooms are fantastic and outstanding. Otherwise they are just big, long, leatherly leaves in a pot. Thanks for giving me a name to call them!

    As far as having your husband retire, the time will be good to enjoy each other and your varying hobbies. My husband retired before I did and he does crank up the volume on the TV as it is background noise for his tinnitus (ringing in his ears). Since he got hearing aides, it is a bit lower, but still resonates into my background as I try to write and edit my work. Otherwise, it’s a blessing to have him home with me. You’ll find it an adjustment, but as with anything, it takes some getting used to and there is a lot of give and take.

  22. Helen Jane

    Bless You Mary…The picture of the dogs at the front door is so cute as it shows how curious they are. Some people adjust to retirement as a duck does to water. Others get with the program eventually and there is lots to do around your farm. About Harry Potter one of our granddaughters (now 27) read all those books as a kid and looked forward to each new release. She would enjoy being on that flight/trip with Connie and the grands. Harry came along at the perfect time for her age as she is still a reader. Enjoy your news! We had a brief rain last night and I set the ferns/pot plants out past the overhang for an extra watering here in our area of Texas. Best of times ahead to You and Rick…

  23. Janice

    Mary, please tell Rick congratulations on his retirement. It’s great you are both able to enjoy this time of life together!

  24. Nancy

    Mine retires tomorrow! Talk about adjusting! Maybe you and I can be cell mates. Think they’ll let us quilt?

  25. Becky from IA

    HAHAHA!!! You poor thing….having a husband home full time is going to an adjustment for all! It will be fine!!! Hope he has a hobby because that will help a lot. You won’t have to mow lawn or shovel snow any more….that will be great for you.

  26. Lois Palmisano

    Mary and Rick on vacation next week!!!
    Sounds like a honeymoon/vacation. Plan some fun stuff to celebrate Rick’s FREEDOM!
    Lois in Omaha.

  27. Gloria

    My husband traveled weekly, for years. It was an adjustment but I retired 4 years ago…after he did. It is certainly a change 24/7 and I hate a loud TV but we’ve worked it all out and it is fun now.

  28. Cathy Davis

    Congratulations Rick! Time to enjoy retirement together! I doubt that sit.still long enough to notice a little loud TV anyway Mary! Enjoy 😄

  29. Kathy

    You are amazing giving so much to the dogs. I always say there is a special place in heaven for those who give of themselves to provide comfort to helpless animals who can’t take care of themselves without a human so you deserve your own kingdom! I think you will be okay with your husband retiring which is well deserved….just go to your own space and spend more time out with friends and fellow quilters.
    And you’ll have a driver now to take you all over!

  30. Katie

    Your love for pets is heartwarming …glad to hear your husband will be retired and smell the roses, I am sure u have a Honeydo list ready for him Amen..
    I too will be taking our 10 year old Granddaughter to functions on Saturday for Harry Potter release,I am currently sewing her a new cape for her..she is with us today life ‘s Good in Az🌵🌵🌵

  31. Midge H


    There is an old saying: when your husband retires you get twice as much husband and half as much money!!! Enjoy the time together!!!

  32. Carol

    Sounds like you and Rick will have to start traveling together now and hit up all the Quilt Shops that you have always dreamed of seeing!

  33. Marilyn K Hooton

    That say it gets easier but it has been a year for me and I still have a shadow! He goes everywhere where with me, tells me how to sew even wants his own chair in my sewing room. Ugh! A real challenge.

      1. Carol

        My husband has several interests and a lot of energy and I love him tremendously, but…ha, there’s always a but!…the first several months after he retired from a position which involved a lot of personnel management, I felt like maybe I worked for him? Like maybe I was being managed? Micromanaged? It was pretty rough until I just had to say, this is what you do that does not work for me. Find something else to control! Since then…I read, garden, sew, work out. He plays music, gardens, reads, composes, writes, works out…and then lots of enjoyable together time.

        You will love retirement together, it just is something new, and change is good! It keeps you young.

  34. Ellie

    Happy retirement to Rick! I’m sure you will both enjoy your time together. The important thing is to maintain your own interests and hobbies. My husband has been retired for nearly 20 years after taking early retirement. Now he has the time to do the things he wanted to do when he was working and didn’t have time for! You may find yourself doing more sewing too! Having your own space is vital!

  35. Linda Hanley

    Hi Mary – retirement will be fun, once you get used to it. My husband retired THREE times before we decided it was permanent! Everything is fine now, once we got used to each other again. You will keep yourself busy and so will he. Good luck.
    I think what you are doing for other peoples’ dogs is just great. I would always be afraid they would get into fights.

    Happy Retirement, Linda

  36. Diane Deibler

    Good luck with the husband retiring,Mary. Bob has been retired for 3 years and I am still adjusting! Of course if you asked him, he would probably say the same thing about adjusting to me !

  37. Eleanor from RI

    Happy retirement to Rick. It will be a fun time for both of you.
    Love seeing THE dogs.

  38. Joanne

    Mary happy retirement to Rick. You will enjoy once the shock of hubby home 24/7 wears off and a barn comes in handy! Either you or him can keep busy in. Which you have so no problem. Have fun,😄

  39. Amy

    Congrats to Rick! I never would have guessed he would actually retire. Luckily you have several sewing spots to “hide” if you need to get away! I say start the honeydo list. He is such a hard worker, I’m sure he will find something to do to keep busy. And I agree with the others… Garner UBER and get that plant a ride to the Fair.

  40. Ramona Tankersley, Clare's niece

    Hi Mary!
    I retired in 1997 and hubby retired in 2005. It takes almost a year to get things figured out when both are home but hang in there. Quilting helped me find great friends when we located to Whidbey Island. Bless all my girl friends! Aren’t quilters just some of the best folks? Maybe you will be able to do retreats and road trips with the girls.

  41. Linette Stewart

    So funny Mary! The first year of retirement together is the hardest – so much togetherness! Congratulations Rick!!

  42. Beth L.

    Congratulations on Rick’s retirement.
    My husband and I get along “most of the time” because even though we are together almost 24/7 we find hobbies and interests that take us away for a few hours here and there even if it just in the next room or out in the garage. So far so good since 1998. I took up quilting and he is “slowly” restoring a 1929 Model A Ford truck.
    I think you should find someone to take the plant to the fair for you!!!!

  43. Janet Bland

    Congratulations to Rick on his retirement. When I retired, I found out how much my husband missed me. I thought I would retire and spend the majority of my time in my quilt studio. Instead, my husband and I spend about half our time piddling around. I’ve become his BFF.

  44. Nancy Pleimann

    You are going to need luck. Life is never the same after they retire. Maybe he will help you with the dogs. Life is to short to be out on the road driving a truck to Chicago. Congratulations on his retirement. It’s a good thing you have a quilt studio. That is what has saved us. Look forward to getting you blog information. Nancy P.

  45. Marsha

    Oh, what a change that will be for both of you! I think you will probably enjoy it! Too bad he isn’t there this week to cover for you so you could go to the fair.

    Is that a night-blooming cereus? We had one once, I used to work at a greenhouse (in the office) and I think my boss gave us a plant or cutting or something. My husband has a green thumb . . . I do not! Anyway, I’ll never forget the first time it bloomed – we were out late and getting back home as we were climbing the stairs to our apartment I wondered what the beautiful odor was . . . yes, it was the cereus plant blooming!

    Another time we were home and my husband took time-lapse photos of it opening. Amazing!

    As others have suggested, do you have anyone who could take your plant to the fair and enter it for you?

  46. Donna Sproston

    Let the honeymoon begin. My husband and I retired twelve years ago and are still on good terms. I took up quilting thanks to your charm quils, and we bought a log home on three acres so he took up mowing! Rick will find something to keep him busy. A honeydo is helpful when boredom sets in!

  47. Mary Says Sew!


    Can you have someone else take your cereus to the county fair for you? Is it possible for Bentley’s parents to get it there? Any neighbors who are also entering things in your fair?

  48. Connie Olson

    Your husband’s retirement will be the best job he ever had. You are ONE BRAVE lady with all those dogs!

  49. Sherry Whalen

    Mary, you are so funny! Three words – wireless head phones. I think you will enjoy having him around! Al and I retired at the same time and it seems harder to get things done with him around sometimes, but then again – we get so much done together. I could go in my sewing room – AKA ‘our house’ as he calls it (he’s a hoot) and spend the entire day. He really enjoys the summers outside with the yard and garden but winter was tough as he really doesn’t have a real hobby. Since February he took a job as a parts deliverer for Autozone. He works 1 to 3 days a week and it keeps him a little busy. Otherwise we’ve done a few fun road trips and have been able to take care of the grands once in a while. As for me – I can’t figure out how I had time to go to a job! Enjoy!!

  50. Pamela Blessman


    My husband and I basically lived apart for the first six years of our marriage too. I haven’t killed him yet! As long as he stays in his man cave and out of my sewing room, we get along fabulously!!!! BTW, I’m in my sewing room as I type, playing with my new Bernina 790! Can you guess how excited I am? Suppose I will have to add this beauty to my will! HA!

    On another subject, just received your book on civil war quilts-it’s upstairs so can’t quote the title exactly. It’s got the little scorched doll quilt in it. Love it! Now to figure out the best resource for reproduction fabrics-my choices are few and far between in my area of NC!

    Have fun with all your babies-sorry about missing the fair! Thanks for all you do!

  51. Malynda Reed

    I am the Domestic Violence Prosecutor, I’ve heard it all! Even had a trial where husband threw a bag of M & M’s at his wife because she wouldn’t “Shut Up”, another defendant said his wife yapped like a “Chihuahua”. They were originally from Mexico!

  52. Kelley

    Sounds like it’s never a dull moment at your house. I love reading your emails and remembering life on the farm. It is too bad that you can’t take your plant to the fair. I used to take some needlework projects I had done. Many congrats on your husband’s retirement. I’m sure you both will be just as busy as when he was working. Thanks for all the nice pictures and updates.

  53. Fiona at Ice Bear Quilts

    Hi Mary,
    Thanks for the update: you are doing good work there in Iowa. Good luck next week with Rick’s retirement! I’m sure it will all go fine. 😊
    Fingers crossed for the cereus flower blooming on time,
    Kind Regards,


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