Family

The one thing I always wanted was family.  I loved the thought of having many cousins, aunts and uncles.  I always wanted a sister.  I thrived on large family gatherings.

Having said all that, family is the one thing I was never blessed with.  I don’t relate to either of my brothers.  One just doesn’t respond in any way.  The other was in the prison system most of his adult life and died early.

My mother died at age fifty and none of her family has spoken to us since then.  My dad’s family has never related to us in all these years.  I have cousins I have never met, seen or talked to.

Because Gramps is a genealogist, I know more about my distant relatives than I do about relatives my own age.  It broke my heart as a child.  Wanting what I couldn’t have and having no way to fix it.  I had no power to get the family I wanted, when I was young.

When I got married and had children, I thought now I had the family I was looking for.  I had a devoted husband and two children.

Except now our son is not speaking to us.  Our daughter and her family live nearby but we only see them about once a month.  But lucky me, I have our niece who has become our daughter and her five children, who have become our grandchildren.  We see them a couple times a year and those times are so special.

Still there are no large family gatherings.  No extended family to relate to.

So I have devised my own way to have a family.  I have friends that care about me the way a relation would.  Some of these friends have been in my life for many years and some are recent acquaintances.  But all of them fill a hole in my heart and my life.

My friends share my love of sewing and quilting.  We love to sit together with fabric, needle and thread in our hands, sharing our thoughts about everything.  We care for each other in good times and difficult times.

My friends call me.  They check-up on me.  They ask me if I’m okay.  I do the same for them.

My friends invite me for dinner and holidays.  We have lunch together.  We share potlucks and buffets.

My friends share my good news and are happy for me.  They hold my hand and cry with me if the news is bad.  My friends do not abandon me – ever.

My friends are my family.   My lifetime wish has been fulfilled.  I have many sisters now.  I have gatherings large and small.  I have the equivalent of dozens of cousins.

The one thing I always wanted, I now have to my heart’s content.  I couldn’t be happier.

For The Love Of Selvedges

So what the heck is a selvedge anyway?  Well, for those who really don’t know, it’s the edge of either side of a woven fabric, so finished as to prevent raveling.  That’s according to Merriam-Webster, that is.

To me, it’s the fun narrow border of a fabric that usually has written words and color dots, and more recently, colorful designs.  Selvedges have become so charming, I am absolutely enamored with them.

Sometimes selvedges will have more than just the name of the company and/or the name of the fabric.  Nowadays they will have words of wisdom, like these.

How can you go wrong, when your fabric tells you how the world should be!

And the selvedges with those cute characters!  I mean, who doesn’t love colorful, charming, little animals or objects just marching across the edge?  Usually the objects pertain to the pattern of the fabric and sometimes . . . who knows where the idea came from?

But I save all selvedges – the smooth edged and the ruffly edged.  I cut the selvedge plus at least one inch of fabric.  That way, when I overlap the selvedges to make fabric, I will get some of the color.

Which is why I save the selvedges – to make more fabric out of the strips.  Sounds insane, I know, but it is so great-looking.  I have covered my sewing room chair with that fabric. Here’s a photo:

Also made a tote.

Basically, once you make a piece of fabric from the strips, you can do anything with that fabric.  Use it like any other fabric and sew into any shape you want.  The possibilities are endless.

I’m not sure why selvedges speak to me the way they do but I sure am hooked.  I confess that once I bought some fabric only because the selvedge was so outstanding.  My love of selvedges is so well known, that many people now save them for me.

It’s kind of like being a drug addict and having dealers who give me the drug for free.  I mean, really?  I once even talked a lady at my Quilt Guild Meeting, who had won a bag of selvedges as a door prize, into giving me the whole bag.  I think I need an intervention.

So next time you see a piece of fabric, look at the selvedges.  Careful!  You might become addicted, just like me!

Oh, I see some now!  Gotta go!

My BFF

Paula has been my best friend since we were in sixth grade.  We are now seventy-two years old, so that’s . . . sixty years!  Hard to believe but true.

We lived close to each other and would often “meet in the middle,” which was halfway between our houses.  Sleepovers were common in those days, as they are today.

We clicked right away and did most everything together.  I remember when we taught ourselves sign language and would sit silently in the back seat of her family car, happily signing back and forth.

There was a time in high school when we made clothes alike, so we could dress like twins. I think we both secretly wished we were real sisters all those years.  Point of fact: we look nothing alike.  How we thought we would pass for twins is beyond me.

For several summers during high school, we went on vacation together with her family. Those are some of the greatest memories I have.  Especially the night we stayed outdoors on cots so we could see the deer come up to the cabin.  We planned to stay awake all night in shifts.  Well, the next thing I remember is us waking up in the morning and seeing the deer tracks where they had come up to investigate us while we slept.

Or the time we planned to row across the lake in a very small boat. That lasted about half an hour and it seemed we were getting nowhere.  So we turned around and came back. Best laid plans!

We shared most everything in those days – ideas, activities, goals, worries, laughs and dreams.  Where one went, the other was not far behind.

College found us going in separate directions – different career paths, different jobs, different friends.

After college, we stayed in touch by phone and letters.  We were in different states by then. We both got married and had two children each.   We visited each other a couple times during those years.

Then one day Paula called – she was getting divorced. How could we help?  “Come get me,” she said.  We helped her move and she stayed with us for nine months.

It was just like before.  We laughed.   We cried. We shared everything.  Paula and Gramps became gardening buddies.  Gramps would enter the house after work and announce, “Hi Honeys, I’m home!”

Paula has since moved out, remarried and bought a new home.  But we remain close.   She is my best friend forever.

We share a love of quilting and belong to the same Quilt Guild. We keep in touch with phone calls, lunches, birthday and holiday dinners and sleepovers.

The best part of our relationship is the shared history.   We don’t have to say a word. Sometimes a look will get us laughing and only we know why.  Everytime we get back together after a time apart, we just pick right up where we left off.  No awkwardness.  No reintroduction necessary.  We really know each other.

The two of us have been to many of our high school reunions over the years.  They have all been fun but the best part has been sharing them with Paula.  Remembering those years together has been most special.

In fact, Paula and I are going on a cruise this year for our high school fifty-fifth reunion.  We will be roommates for ten days to Alaska.  Can’t think of anyone I’d rather go with. (Except Gramps. But he didn’t go to my high school)

We are going to have so much fun.  Share such a wonderful trip.  And make more memories together.

Sisters

I have no natural-born sisters.  But sisters at heart – I have dozens!

A sister to me is a girlfriend whom I love, who loves me back, no matter what.  If I hurt her or if she hurts me, we forgive each other and carry on.

A sister revels in your successes and cries with you when you are sad.  She wants the best for you and will defend you to the death.

A sister believes the best of you and supports you in your efforts.  No one enjoys your good times more than she does or laughs louder at your jokes.  She also points out your mistakes and loves you through them.

A sister is a soulmate in many ways.  She shares your secrets and confidences.  She knows your likes and dislikes and can often predict what you will order at a restaurant.

I have such sisters in my Quilting Bee.  We have known each other for years and yet never get tired of each others’ company.  We often comment how we all feel the need to get together more often than we do because we miss each other when we are apart.

We give each other good advice and not just about quilting.  About everything really – cooking, entertaining, grandparenting, decorating, car repair, computing, marriage, etc.  I learn something every time we are together.

Our group is very eclectic and economically diverse, but you would never know it.  You’d think we were all from the same family by the amount of love in the room.

In all the years I have been a part of this group, I have never heard a harsh word against anyone.  There are no cliques or little gangs amongst us.  And I believe the only curse word I ever heard was said by me in a frustrating sewing moment.  (I know!  I’m still sorry!)

This group is so special to me.  I knew I had to be a part of them the moment I first met them.  It’s a good thing they turned out to be quilters and not miners, because I would be deep in the mines right now.

These dear sisters share everything – no holding back.  They will give anything that is needed – ideas, knowledge, tools, patterns, fabric, support, hugs.  They will sit beside you, go with you, stand behind you, hold your hand and pat your back.  I have seen them make meals, finish others’ quilts, clean a house, drive a friend, pick up a family member and babysit a dog.

And talk about huggers!  These gals are the best huggers in the world!  I can always count on getting my quota of hugs on Bee day.  I always feel so warm and loved.

My quilting sisters set the bar high for kindness and goodness.  They make me a better person by just being around them.  How could I not be a better me when surrounded by my mentors of such high caliber?  I hope to be just like each one of them when I grow up.

These sisters of mine are top-notch quilters, too.  How lucky am I to have the best teachers to guide me?  They challenge me gently to constantly improve my skills and to never accept less than my best from myself.

I dearly love my sisters and know they dearly love me.  I count the days until we are together again.  We will greet each other with hugs and smiles.  We will laugh, talk, share stories, show our quilting projects, eat and continue on with more of the same.  It never gets old.

We can’t get enough of each other.  My sisters and me.

Listening To The Room

Today I spent most of my day with a few other ladies from our Quilting Bee. We were working on a couple quilt tops for a project for our Guild called Brotherhood For The Fallen. This is a mission we have taken on to supply a quilt to the family of every police officer in the state of Texas killed in the line of duty.

It’s a solemn duty but the day was anything but solemn. We had sewers, cutters, ironers and designers all busy putting wonderful fabric pieces together to form those two quilts.

Now when a bunch of quilters get together, things happen. Fabric scraps start to appear all over. Threads begin to cling to everything. The sound of machines whirr through the room. And the general noise level increases.

Designs must be arranged. Decisions must be made. Opinions offered. Math must be calculated. And all redone several times before the final outcome is reached and a design is ready to be sewn.

Then all the blocks must be measured and squared, sashing added and finally borders are put on.

None of this is done in silence. Quilters are definitely a chatty group. Even if they see each other often, as we do, they still find plenty to talk about.

The best moment of the day was just sitting quietly and listening to the room. Hearing two gals decide they liked the black border instead of the white. Hearing one friend tell another how her two children are doing. Hearing two ladies laugh over a photo of one’s dog on her phone.

All this played out to the background noise of sewing machines doing their job, irons pressing away and fabrics fluttering in the air.

In that moment all was right with the world. We were in complete harmony with each other. It was a perfect moment.

These are women I love. These are women I admire. These are women I trust. And what a gift they gave me today – one perfect moment!!

Looking Forward

Everyone has a past. We learn a great deal from the past – positive and negative. In other words, there are things that definitely need to be repeated and there are things that everyone agrees should never be done again. Good lessons all!

Everyone has a present – the right now that we are all living. I’m a strong believer of enjoying the present, taking the joy from each moment and living life as it presents itself to you.

Everyone has a future – the life not yet lived, the life on the horizon, the life dreamed about. The future can be very compelling and enticing. I want to have things to look forward to, plans that promise to be exciting and fun.

In the near future, I have two quilting retreats that I am so excited about attending. Having them on my calendar not only brings me joy, it also keeps me organized.

I have been busy gathering together what I will be working on for the two retreats. That means getting projects started, finding the right fabrics, packing projects together, finding notions I haven’t seen in my sewing room for awhile, planning food, etc. Retreats don’t occur by chance. They require organization and that is good for me.

Thinking about future activities sets me to thinking about past activities too. I’m reminiscing about other quilting retreats and remembering good times, good people, good food and good quilts. Recalling previous fine memories is good for me.

Planning for the future also keeps me active. I cannot sit still all day and get ready for two quilt retreats. I must do something every day to prepare for being on retreat and also for being away from home all those days. Being a doer everyday is good for me.

Looking forward to my retreats keeps me excited about my hobby of quilting. I know I will be seeing new patterns, new skills, new fabrics and new notions. I will be with women who will challenge me, inspire me and uplift me. I will come back with more ideas than I can ever use, more enthusiasm than I can ever channel and more fabric than I can ever process. Looking forward is good for me.

How great it is to have all those wonderful reminders of coming events on my calendar. Those events that keep me so happy, so organized and so active. They are like little carrots always dangling in front of me, keeping me heading in the right direction.

As I said – looking forward is so good for me!

The Value Of A Friend

Patty and I have been friends since 6th grade. So that would be about 60 years — yes, that’s right, 60 years!!! Unbelievable!!!

Our relationship has survived marriages, divorces, births, deaths and many childhood traumas — our own and those of our children and grandchildren. We have shared secrets, loves, break-ups, goals, dreams, hopes, and disappointments. We have cried, laughed, joked, prayed and sat quietly together many, many times.

I can’t remember us ever having an argument even though we don’t always agree. We live within an hour of each other, belong to the same quilting guild, have lunch often and our families go camping together every year. We couldn’t be any closer.

Patty is truly my oldest (even though I’m 4 months older!) and dearest friend. She knows me completely and loves me anyway. Our conversation picks up where it left off every time we see each other. We laugh easily at each other’s foibles and can correct each other comfortably. We reminisce often. She is a walking history of my life.

This long term, life friendship is a treasure. Nothing can replace the amount of time invested in our mutual admiration society. Few people get the privilege of this kind of relationship in their lives.

Kelly, I’ve known maybe 20 years. She worked with my husband and that’s how we met. We too share the love of quilting.

Kelly is an Engineer and is very organized. She gives me good advice and has a logical reason for doing everything. She is the most wonderful, attentive daughter to her mother.

She has taught me so much about loyalty, duty, good manners and thoughtfulness. There are not enough people like Kelly in the world. She may be years younger than me but she is years wiser.

Mary and I have very little in common, except our love of quilting. I consider her my friend and yet we are at odds most of the time. Our conversations are sometimes limited and sometimes heated.

I admire a great deal about Mary, while some of her characteristics are annoying. She is loud. She is quick tempered. She is rash. She is passionate. She is loyal. She is giving.

I value our relationship even though I struggle with it. I love her but I don’t always like her. In the end she is a true friend to me. She keeps me honest. She challenges my beliefs and my statements. She makes me think and question the truth of everything. She keeps me from being apathetic.

Mary makes me a better person.

Kelly makes me a better person.

Patty makes me a better person.

What more can you ask of a friend?

 

A Look At A Book 13

The Quiltmaker’s Gift by Jeff Brumbeau and Gail de Marcken.

This charming colorful book tells a fable for our times and celebrates the joy of giving and sharing.

A generous quilt maker, with magic in her fingers, sews the most beautiful quilts in the world. But she does not sell them. She only gives them to the poor and those who need them.

A greedy king, with every treasure he can stuff into his storehouse, remains sad and lonely. He yearns for the one gift that will make him happy.

Could that gift be a quilt?

Will the quiltmaker sew a quilt for the king?

Can the quilt maker teach the king to be happy?

What will the king do with all his splendid treasures?

QM 2

Look for clues to the story in the quilts–all 250 of them!!!

The Big And The Small

Well, Quilt Retreat has come and gone again for another year. How does this keep happening so fast? It must be my age. Everything is passing by more rapidly. I remember my grandmother telling me time would speed up as I got older. She sure was right!!

And how wonderful Retreat was! Every Retreat has its own sense about it, its own personality. This Retreat was no different. The combination of the time, the weather, the people, their concerns and the quilts made this Retreat a completely unique, one of a kind, never to be experienced again occasion.

There were big laughs, big meals, big hugs, big reveals, big quilts, big moments, big lessons and big sleeps. All this combined with small giggles, small snacks, small touches, small peeks, small quilts, small moments, small ideas and small cat naps made for the most perfect of all Retreats. The best combination of the large group shared events and the little one-on-one moments are the most to be treasured.

I think the quilts on the design walls reflect our big and small moments the best for this year. Here are some in the big category.

And now for some of the small quilts. Be mindful  that most of them are small because they are not finished yet. And, after all, isn’t that the greatest characteristic  of the small things in the world – their potential? 

And on that sweet note, I say goodbye.