Sunday, 8 December 2013

Fly In Fly Out

I think at some point I promised you that I would tell you about my visitor this weekend.  Well let me start at the beginning.  Back in mid-August I received an email from a fellow on Op Slipper who had just heard about us.  You know I can't name him but to make it easier to tell the story I will call him LAC N.   He wrote the following email 

Ma'am,

I am currently serving with the RAAF in the MEAO (Middle East Area of Operation) and found out about the brilliant work that you and your amazing team do.   I wish to inquire about obtaining one of these gifts. Could you send me instructions on what is required from me. 
Kindest Regards

Good grief!  It has only been about 17 years since someone called me Ma'am!  I wrote back and gave my usual blurb and soon heard back with all the relevant details including 

My interests are SCI-FI TV shows/movies (Dr Who etc) the GWS Giants (AFL), The Broncos (NRL) and my family! 

In due course LAC N's were added to the Request List and Julie Ann contacted me and offered to make a Tardis quilt.  She had made some for her sons for Christmas so would not find it hard.  

Now Julie Ann's name may not as familar to you but but by way of introduction Julie Ann is one of my laundry bag Divas!   She has made her fair share of quilts but her specialty is personalised laundry bags and to date she has made a few hundred.  In fact she is responsible for all the laundry bags sent to the last deployment of guys and girls from 17 Construction Squadron - she made in excess of 30 laundry bags and no two were the same.  Many are seen in this photo which you are all familiar with!


A month of so later Julie Ann posted off the quilt and waited for a response.  She got a lovely thank you from the recipient (But I can't find it at the moment and can't contact Julie Ann either for reasons that will become obvious later) but we also received another response.  This one from CPL C.

Good morning/afternoon AHQ, 

I'm currently serving with the RAAF in the MEAO and found out about the brilliant work that you and your amazing team do from the other guys that I'm deployed with. 

I wish to request a laundry bag and quilt if it is at all possible, after seeing some of the quilts and bags the guys I work with have received I have become green with envy. LAC N showed me his quilt and I instantly wanted one.  If the lady in SA that made it for him wouldn't mind making a second one for me I would be eternally grateful as I am a mad Doctor Who fan.  If possible a RAAF orientated Laundry Bag would be awesome too. 


I understand that you and you're team are extremely busy and customised items may not be possible as there are many deployed members that you cater for with these well received gifts.  I'm deployed until mid November so its not a lot of time so the best you may be able to manage would be awesome. If something can be organised and time permits my mailing address is: 

XXXXXXXXXXXXXX


Thank you so much for what you guys do for our Deployed members.

Now I need the quilters to stay friendly and preferably not stressed so in situations like these I will let them know of the request but will make it absolutely clear that they are under no obligation to agree to take on the request.  Luckily for this fellow, Julie Ann said yes.  To reduce the stress on Julie Ann I told CPL C that he would not get his quilt whilst deployed and discussed payment for postage and his address.  It turned out that he lives about 30 minutes from me so I did want any sensible Aussie Hero Friend would do and suggested he come for a cuppa instead of paying for postage and ever the gentleman here was his response.

I would be most privileged to come and enjoy a cup of coffee with you.  Its the least I can do to show my appreciation for all the work you help do. I don't return home until mid November but we can certainly organise a time when I get back. Please send my thanks and appreciation to Julie Ann for agreeing to making me a quilt.


Once I told Julie Ann that her recipient was going to be back in Sydney and I would be giving him his quilt in person the cogs started whirring and before I knew it she was planning a weekend away.  

Now for me to travel is not such a big thing.  During the school term I have one son away, the dogs can go into the kennel and my husband is more than likely already away and that only leaves one son left to organise.   He has just finished school and is working on deciding what course (as in path rather than studies) his life will take next year and it is time that he started to be a little more independent anyway so I can travel fairly easily.  

For Julie Ann things are not so easy.  You see Julie Ann is the primary carer for her wheel chair bound husband who has multiple sclerosis. , it is not possible for her to leave her husband for a long time, and certainly not overnight.  

That said however, do not underestimate the desire many of the quilters have to actually MEET someone that they make quilts or laundry bags for.  While I spend many hours secluded in my office with my laptop and occasionally my sewing machine for company, I at least, receive the many emails and occasional phone calls  from "over there" and even more occasional visits from recipients.   A very few have become friends.

The closest Julie Ann has come in the past to meeting a recipient was getting an excited thank you from one of the fellows collecting money on Remembrance Day when she told him that she sewed for Aussie Heroes.  "I received one of those" he exclaimed and proceeded to enthusiastically thank her.  That was still pretty special but to actually meet someone that you have sewn for and to see their reaction to their quilt is rather special.

So, Julie Ann started to plan.   As it was her birthday last week Julie Ann let her children know that she wanted a trip to Sydney for her birthday.  Not the airfare, or the cab fare, but their time - to stay with and care for their father while she was away and so she got a leave pass.   

The next thing we had to do was arrange a date. More emails back and forth to her two recipients and taking in to account my recent trip and the fellows schedules we settled on this weekend.  

Along the way LAC L volunteered to collect Julie Ann from the Airport.  I am capable at most things but ask me to drive into the city or to and from the airport and my enthusiasm is significantly reduced by my Navman's inability to cope with the tall buildings, the multiple lanes and the tunnels. I was very grateful for his offer and we accepted promptly.

Around lunch time yesterday, having arrived in Sydney Julie Ann was greeted by this sign and LAC L wearing a deliberately hard to miss Brisbane Broncos T shirt.


Half an hour or so later they arrived at Headquarters AHQ - oh ok, they arrived at my home.  After a few hours sitting around the table, eating lunch and chatting it was time for the obligatory photo. 


Just after LAC L left we had a brief visit from Cath, one of our generous long arm quilters, who dropped off three newly quilted quilts and collected three more to drop back some time after Christmas.  No sooner had Cath left than CPL C arrived with his lovely wife J.  More time sitting around my kitchen table (everyone is entertained at my kitchen table, no standing on ceremonies here, and besides, there was no room on the sofa in the lounge room as it was covered in quilts and laundry bags!  Oops!).  We chatted somewhat longer than I think they expected and there was just time for a quick photo again and off they went back to their visiting relatives. 


 I had packed up some chocolate cake for them but it was nearly forgotten. (My fault entirely) Thankfully Julie Ann grabbed it and raced it down the driveway, managing to catch them before they drove off.  Phew! Just as well as apparently it saved them from being disowned by their visiting relatives who had probably wondered about sending out the search party. 

Julie Ann and I headed straight out to get some dinner but first we did a quilt tour of the local Aussie Hero sights.......well the famed PO Box 248 (no mail  :-( oh well).


A quick dinner at a local restaurant and back to Headquarters. While I caught up on all the days' emails Julie Ann sorted through fabrics for laundry bags so she had some to take home with her.  I think we finally called it quits sometime after midnight but had to be back up again so that Julie Ann could be ready to head off to the airport at 830 this morning. In the end she spent barely 24 hours in Sydney, and when she texted me to tell me that she has arrived home safe and sound and all was well, she said it didn't feel like she had been away.  I suspect you have to be gone a bit longer for that to happen.  

All I can say is what a shame Julie Ann doesn't live closer to Sydney as we had a ball but I am so glad that I finally got the chance to meet her!  You are welcome any time!!

So, tomorrow is the next big date - The Sydney Pot Luck Dinner.  We are starting at 7pm and it is still not too late for people to decide to join us.  Just give me a call, email me or PM me on facebook if you are interested.  

Looking forward to it!

Final note!  This is the last week before I start the Christmas/New Year Routine.  Starting next week the blog will reduce to three times a week not six.  I will post on Monday Wednesday and Friday for a few weeks so that I can have a bit of a break and maybe even squeeze in a bit of sewing!   I will remind you when the time comes though.  All other activities will remain the same though.

Till next time.......................keep spreading the word and happy stitching.





3 comments:

  1. Well done, Julie Anne - You are as much an Aussie Hero as the Heroes in uniform.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Lovely story. And it couldn't have happened to a nicer person.

    ReplyDelete