Nancy Moore knows she's a geek. She calls her passion for cross-stitch the geekiest hobby ever.
Geeky or not, Moore brought home three blue ribbons for her work from this year's Delaware State Fair.
"My mom always sewed, and one cloudy weekend in Rehoboth Beach, I picked up a cross-stitch project to pass the time," Moore said. "That got me started."
That was 1984, and except for a brief break, Moore has been cross-stitching ever since.
"I find it very relaxing," she said. "I have a spot at home – we call it the Sheldon spot after the "The Big Bang Theory" character – and I can just sit there for hours working on a project."
She entered six pieces in the fair, but just a month before they were due, only four projects were completed. "I took days off of work right before the fair to finish up," Moore said.
"I tell people I'm old-fashioned in a high-tech way," Moore said with a hearty laugh. She has an app on her phone to track her thread collection; it allows her to shop for a new project and quickly check to make sure she has the thread she needs at home to complete it.
To improve her skills, Moore watches YouTube videos to learn how to make stitches tighter and more uniform. At competitions, judges expect all the stitches to cross exactly the same way, she said.
Walking through the halls of her Milford home is like taking a trip back in time. More than 70 projects are displayed, and each has its own story to tell.
"When I look at them, I remember the time of year – like I did this one during a really cold winter and remember being so happy to be stuck inside where it was warm," Moore said, pointing to a Santa Claus project.
Born and raised in Newark, Moore remembers being the needlework girl in high school. After graduating from University of Delaware, Moore married her first husband. The couple had two sons, which kept Moore too busy to stitch. It was the only time she has taken a break from cross-stitching.
"In 1999, during my second marriage, I picked it back up," Moore said. She said later in that marriage the cross-stitching kept her anxiety at bay.
After two divorces, Moore told her kids they could move anywhere. The boys wanted to stay in Delaware, so the three of them moved to Milford because the town has a good school district.
With her sons happily settled in at school, Moore entered the online dating scene, finding her match – James – who lived just 12 miles from her new home.
"We shopped at the same stores, and I'm sure we passed each other before meeting," Moore said. "We met at for the first time at a Milford ballpark."
It would be the third marriage for both of them. The couple were married on Lewes Beach and had their reception at Irish Eyes in Lewes, where, above the main entryway, a sign states, "Third time's the charm."
Moore said she couldn't pass up having the reception at the restaurant, which burned down twice.
An unexpected path
Moore found the attention to detail and perfectionism she calls on for cross-stitching also pays dividends when it comes to selling renewable energy.
While working as a temp, Moore was assigned to answer phones for six weeks for Bluewater Wind, a start-up development company that aimed to bring offshore wind power to Rehoboth Beach.
"Six weeks turned into eight years," said Moore, who eventually became the state director for the company. "I believed in the mission - there are tons of reasons to go renewable."
Moore, like many Cape Region residents, was heartbroken when she found out the wind project would not become a reality. She and her fellow staffers at Bluewater Wind found themselves looking for new jobs.
After taking some time to think about her next move, Moore got on the phone and called every renewable resource company in the state. "I had a bunch of interviews, but in the end I really connected with CNC Solar," Moore said.
"I'm saving the planet," she said from her small office off Rehoboth Avenue, her humor not hiding the pride she has for her job.
To show how dedicated she is to renewable energy, Moore helped her parents install solar panels on their roof. She also has them on her home and admits she is a bit of a hawk when it comes to monitoring energy use.
Don't spend too much time in the shower at her house or you'll hear about it.
"CNC is a smart company and very cost-competitive," Moore said. "I like that I have basically two jobs - when I am out on the street, I advocate for the company, but when I am in my office I am advocating for the customer."
At 46, the self-proclaimed geek has plenty of plans for the future, including finishing all of the cross-stitching projects at her house, which she says could take her the rest of her life.
She is also hopeful for the future of her second passion - renewable energy. She thinks alternative power will continue to gain steam; she still grasps a tiny bit of hope that someday windmills will be glinting in the sun off the coast of Delaware.