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.

Lunch In The Car

With the current situation in play and all the cancellations of activities, I have come to realize how often I went out to lunch.  Quilters, I now know, are a noshing group.

Every meeting I went to was followed by lunch.  Every sewing group involved a meal or some snacks.  Every gathering of our Bee included breakfast AND lunch.

And then there was the occasional social event which was always centered around food. Eating was a big part of all my activities.  How did I not know this before?

I guess I knew it but just took it for granted.  It was always there, available, easy, reliable, comforting.  Adding a bit of spice and good taste to every occasion.  Giving every event a time for us to bond and be relaxed.

But two weeks ago everything changed.  Eating establishments began to close or sort of close.  Gathering places weren’t available.

Then my friend Lynn called.  She already had cabin fever and wanted out of the house. “Let’s go to lunch!” I suggested.  She was excited to go.

We met at a Mexican food place.  As soon as we entered, it was obvious no one was eating inside.  We could do take out.  But go where?

“Let’s eat in my car,” Lynn said.  So we did.  We sat in the front seat of her car eating tacos and quesadillas.  We talked.   We laughed.  We cried. (Lynn had lost a relative recently).  We made plans.  We shared sewing projects.  We spilled salsa on ourselves.

All the things we would normally have done at any lunch, we did in the front seat of her car.  It was wonderful.  Magical even.

I think when this virus quarantine is all over, Lynn and I will go out to lunch again.  And we’ll eat in the car, for old time’s sake.

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 House, My Home

I’m a real homebody, a nester, so my home is especially important to me.  I love everything about it.  From the front door to the back door to the garage to the yard, it’s my special haven.

We bought the house in foreclosure, which meant it required an immense amount of work. Every surface needed some sort of work, replacement or refinishing. The labor nearly broke us physically and emotionally.

It was much better when we decided to hire out the jobs.  And the nice part was we got to make the house ours.  We added our own touch to every corner of every room.

Now the house is a real home – it’s ours.  Gramps and mine.  The original black front door (really? black?!) is now a welcoming cream with a seasonal wreath hanging on it.  Come on in!

The front foyer greets everyone with horizontal blue and white stripes with blue and white plates scattered all around.  The large chandelier is named Elizabeth.

I know that’s strange but grandson Mac and I where very into naming things when he was younger.  Several things in my house have names.  Don’t judge!

The rest of the house is also very blue.  Blue is my favorite color.  I can’t get enough of it – in all shades and hues.

We have a dining room because we had to have one.  I love having meals with loved ones all around me at the table.  Most of my memories involve meals, so this is important to me. And, of course, all the blue and white dishes.  Enough said.

The family room is, steady now, blue with a fireplace.  It’s very cozy and has two blue recliners for Gramps and me.  We are like a pair of bookends on either side of the table with the lamp.  Gramps does a lot of reading in his chair and I do a lot of sewing in mine.

We are surrounded by several collections of family antiques.  They mean a lot to us and give us comfort.

The kitchen is white with a blue backsplash.  It’s very country in style.  I have a large cast iron sink and an island with a marble top.  The old chopping block from Aunt Gladys is there too.

The kitchen eating area is surrounded in beadboard paneling with, you guessed it, blue walls.  It’s a lovely sunny corner with windows on two sides.

The master bedroom is, careful now, yellow with blue accents.  Our bed is over one hundred years old.  My grandmother was born in that bed.  The room has many antiques, which I love.

There’s a guest room and an office.  The guest room holds many of my quilts. The office is mostly Gramps’ space.

Then there’s my sewing room.  The HQ of all fabric-related jobs. It is my favorite room. Lots of lighting.   Lots of storage. Lots of fabric.

One whole wall has shelves of fabric.  And yet that is never enough.  Somehow every project I start requires some fabric that I do not have.  I hate when I have to go to a fabric store.  NOT!

There’s a wonderful cutting table in the middle with an ironing surface.  My sewing machine sits in the corner facing out so I can see everything.  Sewing projects are stacked everywhere.

On the outside, Gramps has singlehandedly made our yard a green haven.  He has added grass, trees, bushes and walkways.  There is now a wonderful patio and a colorful yard beyond in the back.

The front has a welcoming walkway with lights, trees and shrubs.  Our sunset walk always starts with an inspection of the front yard grass for weeds and other stray growing things.

I love my little bungalow of a house.  It is my shelter, my haven.  It is sweet and welcomes me home every time.

It has become like an old friend.  Always there.  Always comfortable.  Always reliable.

It’s getting dark out now.  I need to go turn on the front lights.  Yes, even Elizabeth!

The Best Of Retirement

I started working at age sixteen and retired at age fifty nine. My retirement came suddenly and unexpectedly. I had no plans or expectations. I was completely blindsided and unprepared.

The first year was difficult. I didn’t know how to feel about myself with no job and no income. There were feelings of worthlessness, confusion and anxiety. It wasn’t a good transition. I don’t recommend it to anyone.

Slowly I started to fill my time with some worthwhile activities. They certainly helped but I was still floundering.

At the same time, my first grandson was born. Now that was super! I had plenty of time to spend with the baby and I did. What great memories I have now.

That started the formation of my philosophy of being a Granny. I knew then I wanted to be intentional about my actions and positive about my attitude.

I started sewing for my grandson and found some likeminded women to sew with. Life was getting better and I was more active.

It seemed the more I sewed and the more I joined other women who sewed, the happier I became. So, of course, I did more . . . . and more . . . . and more.

Now I am a quilter who belongs to six sewing groups – from a quilting bee to a wool embroidery group to an applique group. And my grandson, now 14, is one of six grandchildren that I have sewn many items for.

Retirement is such a blessing to me and I am busier now than when I was working. My life is also much more joyful. I don’t have to rush or be in a hurry. I have no deadlines, unless they are self-imposed. I can take my time now.

Retirement gives me time to do what I want, when I want. That includes more activities at church, lunch with the girls, sewing and maybe a good nap now and then.

Gramps and I have more time together. We talk more, share more, laugh more and hold hands more. We have time to go out for dinner, see movies, visit with friends and sing in the church choir.

Combining grandchildren with retirement is absolutely heaven sent! I can’t think of a better reason to keep working to retirement age.

In a word, retirement gives me time. Over the years I have learned the best ways to spend that precious commodity to enrich my life and my family’s life.

In the beginning, I wasted my time and I regret that very much. But no more. Every moment is a gift and it only comes once.

I have plans now. I have expectations of myself. I’m looking forward to every day. I’m excited. Know why?

I’m retired!!!!

 

Best Weather

Most people love a nice warm sunny day.   Then there are those that can’t wait for a great snow day to stay home and build a snowman.  Of course, there may be the the odd person that likes a windy Fall day when all the leaves flutter around.

Me?  I really appreciate a good rain.  The sound of pitter-pat on the roof and water dripping off the eaves is music to my ears.  Like the sound of a rushing river or a waterfall, it is very soothing and calming to me.

I even love the look of a rainy day.  Kind of misty and smudgy – watery, even.  It looks like a painting to me.  Dare I say, a “watercolor?”  The colors all blend and there are no hard edges.

The air is cooler and damp, of course.  What fun to even go out in the rain and get soaked.  It feels sort of like swimming with your clothes on but freer.  There’s something absolutely daring about dancing in the rain.

For those who like to stay dry, rainy days are perfect for huddling indoors.  Maybe enjoying a fire, a blanket and a nap.  With or without a pet on your lap.  Your choice.

For the more industrious, there’s always reading a good book (mysteries are perfect!), baking (brownies, of course!), or sewing.  Do not clean the house on a rainy day.  You will be miserable.

My preference is always sewing – especially hand-work.  You just can’t beat sitting in the big chair and binding a quilt while hearing the soft sound of rain on the patio.  I could do that all day.  And I have.

Now a big loud rainstorm is something else.  That requires a storm buddy, candles (because the electricity will probably go out), popcorn and a board game.  No electronics allowed here.  And no fear either – just fun.

All rainy days are fun for me.  In fact, having a rainy “season” makes me delirious.

Did I just hear there’s an 80% chance of rain tomorrow?

Yippee!!!!!!!

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!!!

Five Days In Paducah

Paducah is a small town in Kentucky that has a very large quilt show in April every year. And by large, I do mean LARGE! My two friends Pam and Kim and I spent five wonderful days taking in the show and the whole town during that great Quilt Show week.

We took our husbands and our campers with us for that extra touch of fun. Believe me, it is the only way to travel.

After two days of light travel we arrived in Paducah, the Nirvana for quilters. The weather was perfect, the surroundings green and lush, the campgrounds charming. We were ready with our lists of “needed” items to buy, bags to carry our stuff and the ever necessary credit cards in hand.

DAY ONE – We visited the Quilt Museum, a must see for any visit to Paducah. The display is constantly changing, which keeps it exciting. We saw some spectacular Japanese quilts.

The local School of Art and Design had a display of quilts from Korea. The oriental influence was seen everywhere!

We then went to Hancocks of Paducah-a store the size of two warehouses! At the front door was a sign stating that only women’s restrooms were inside. Men had to use Port-a-Johns outside. A theme we were to see everywhere all week. (I guess there are never enough restrooms when 35,000 women hit town all at once!)

Hancocks had everything! Yardage, traditional, batiks, precuts, panels, trims, paper piecing, sale tables, the works. We were there for a couple hours! We had to look at everything, touch everything, think about everything and then decide to buy or not. We were exhausted!

After lunch we found the Paper Piecing shop. What a great little shop! Everything you need to paper piece and I do mean everything. I found the parts to paper piece my Dear Jane quilt. I got row E. I’m so excited to try it out and see how it works.

That afternoon we found a temporary shop selling fabric at $5/yd. I found several pieces for the hexagons I’m doing on a future quilt. All of us found something we “needed”.

Back to the campground for a wine tasting party. It was grand! The wine was so good, we told our hubbies to go the next day and get some wine to take home.

A lovely sunset and off to bed.

DAY TWO – The second morning was spent at the Quilt In A Day shop. A cute place with very colorful fabrics.

We found another $5/yd place with some great fabrics and even some wool. All of us got a few good pieces there.

After lunch with the hubbies, we went next door to “Jack the Seam Ripper”. Love the name! Kim found a quilt she could not live without and it came home with her.

That evening we had BBQ at the campgrounds. However, BBQ in Kentucky means pulled pork. To Texans, like us, it means smoked beef, but it was tender and tasty. The side dishes were very good.

Another wonderful evening and off to our campers for a good night’s sleep.

DAY THREE – The Quilt Show officially opened! We spent the whole day on the first floor of the Convention Center. Many outstanding quilts on display – mouthwatering and awe-inspiring. We couldn’t get enough of them.

One unbelievable quilt to behold was the wooden quilt. Yes, it was a carved 3-D quilt that looked like it was hanging over a rope on the wall. I don’t care how close you got, it looked real. Only after you touched it, did it finally sink in that this was a wooden object. A real stunner!

Another display that was especially unique was Ian Berry’s. His denim rooms and objects were beyond words. An entire life-size laundromat made entirely out of jean denim! Unbelievable! And the Indigogo Record Shop with all the album covers- spectacular! Beyond anything I’ve ever seen.

A Silent Auction was being held to sell about 20 orphan quilts of all styles, ages and conditions. One precious old blue and white pieced one was calling to me. It had obviously been loved and used and had a current bid of $30 on it submitted by a lady named Judy. I upped the bid to $31 and stood guard to protect my quilt. Bidding ended before Judy could return to increase her bid. The quilt was mine. Judy did corner me  as I was waiting in the payment line to tell me how much she loved blue and white. I assured her I did also and the quilt was going to a good home. She seemed pleased, patted the quilt and walked off.

Kim and Pat bought quilts too. What a beginning to a Quilt Show!

Besides quilts there were vendors to die for! More wool than I’ve ever seen in one place before. I got many beautiful threads for my Sue Spargo projects and an easel for a tray  I got in Houston last year. Its going to look great in front of my fireplace.

The surprise at the campground after dinner was an ice cream social. What fun that was! We got to make our own ice cream sundaes.

DAY FOUR – The second day of the Quilt Show we explored the second floor of the Convention Center. More quilts on exhibit and many more vendors.

We had a great day shopping and viewing, viewing and shopping. More wools were to be found and lovely decorative threads and trims. I got a couple of wool kits to make small replicas of crooks-1 gallon, 2 gallon and a butter dish. They are charming beyond words!

More fabrics for my hexie border on my unmade quilt. Hey, it’ll get made someday . . . . . . maybe! And I found some light batiks that seem to be hard to find. I only realized this since I started to look for them for a future quilt.

A lovely day was had by all. We took our lunch each day to avoid the mad rush and utilized the bag check numerous times a day. That way we were not overloaded with bags and bags of goodies while shopping. And each day our wonderful husbands would pick us up right outside the hotel and take us and ALL our stuff home.

This day we had to make an extra stop at the Harley Davidson Shop to get a T-shirt for Pam’s husband. He is a rider and that is his idea of a souvenir. We couldn’t stay too long because the other husbands started petting the bikes, talking to them and finally my Sweetie sat on one. That’s when I said we gotta go–before we all end up with a motor cycle!

That evening at the campground we took a class in wool appliqué and made a little needle case. We had a kit with everything. All I took was a pair of scissors and a thimble. I have never taken so little to any class before. Had a ball!

Learned some new things – some I liked, some I don’t think I’ll do again. All good knowledge. ( I’m so in love with that campground – I can’t even tell you!)

Went to bed exhausted!

DAY FIVE – By day five we were experts at this Paducah Quilt Show thing. We knew when to get up, what shoes to wear, what to pack for lunch, what bags to bring, when to stop for lunch, when to take an afternoon break, etc. We were Primo quilt show attendees. Ask us any question and we had the answer. We had seen it all and done it all . . . . . except the DOME.

The Dome  sits out by itself in a parking lot like a big white soft inflated warehouse. Which is pretty much what it is. You can walk to it or take a short shuttle trip. It calls to you like a big balloon full of goodies.

You think what can possibly be over there that I haven’t already seen? Surely there’s nothing new there – nothing really exciting. Surely . . . . . well, surely I was WRONG!!!!!

The Dome was full of more wonderful fabrics, wools, threads, trims, etc., etc. I can’t go on! It was magic! We found embroidery patterns we had never seen before – with a brand new type of mylar.

And French fabrics and trims! Mai oui! C’est bon! Magnifique! Things you can find no where else but found in her booth.

Finally, finally, we were done and headed back to the Convention Center in the last shuttle bus to pick up our stuff in bag check. When we arrived, our bags were the last ones left. Whew! That was close!

Back to the campers to look at all our new toys and playthings. We made some outstanding purchases, some funny buys, some “what did I do that for?” additions, some “wish I”d gotten more of that” sales and some “I hope this works” buys. All in all, a good week.

We saw more quilts than we expected and better quality than we hoped for, variety beyond belief and “expanding our culture” ones that truly opened our eyes and our minds.

Quilts are enjoyed on so many levels, it is truly hard to describe how much we enjoyed the displays. Some quilts were inspiring, some were plain awesome, some were so amazing I couldn’t imagine even attempting those. Some had so much detail you had to get very close, others had to be seen from a distance. Some fooled your eye and some were honest to a fault. Some wanted to be interpreted, hoping each viewer would come away with a different viewpoint, while others asked for no interpretation at all. Some were bright and loud, using every color of the rainbow, and then some used muted pale colors or no color at all.

How to judge a quilt show – you can’t! You can simply enjoy it. And that’s what we did for five days in Paducah.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Retreat Revisited

Ah quilt retreat! There is nothing like it. Four days of sewing, chatting, sharing, laughing, eating and maybe some sleeping. There is lots of humming of machines, questions like “Does this border go with this fabric?”, answers of “I prefer the blue!”, whirring of rotary cutters and even some quiet times of hand sewing. One person can be absorbed in reading directions, two people can be sharing a new technique, three people can be giving an opinion on placement of blocks for a quilt and any number of people an be taking a class on a brilliant idea or some new sewing notion.

A retreat is many things and can be anything to one person. Maybe it’s a chance to finish that project . . . . finally. Maybe it’s a chance to start a new project . . . . finally. And maybe it’s just time, time to sew and sew and sew on anything and everything you have. It’s the freedom to do whatever you want.

Ah quilt retreat! Looking forward to it is a joy. Experiencing it is true heaven. Even the memories of it are a blessing. Here are a few of mine.

This is just one block for a quilt done in appliqué. Can you imagine how spectacular that quilt will be?

This quilt looks like it was woven. And it is made out of flannel. What a coy hug it will give on cold nights.

A beautiful Christmas tree already for the holiday.

A beautiful quilt done in squares. Very modern looking.

Is this too cute? I love the baby penguin!

A wonderful red, white and blue star quilt. Love those stars!

This quilt is big, beautiful and not even done yet. There will be more poinsettias when completed. How perfect will that be?

A quilt of foxes is being worked on here. How adorable!

A little Christmas village just got finished here in this cute quilt.

Several of us took lessons on making stars the Inklingo way. Here are our results.

This spectacular one is made from a zillion little pieces of fabric applied to the background. Isn’t it wonderful?

 

I love the brightness of this quilt. Must be all those primary colors.

This is going to be a great quilt when it is done. Don’t you agree?

Another very interesting quilt. The blocks are going in all directions. Love the clocks!

This quilt is very soft looking. I bet it is very comforting too.

Here is a special quilt of several blocks of the Lady of Guadalupe. It was made for a special friend. Lucky lady!

This is not exactly a quilt but still a real cutie. It is a wool mat for a platter. It is all done by hand with much embellishment.

A complicated quilt that is very lovely to behold. Can’t wait till this one is done.

This one looks very hard but actually it is the fabric that is printed to look like 36 square blocks. Interesting, right?

This is all I can show you of the marvelous retreat I went to. The best parts are the  intangibles. They are the relationships we all have and the history of many retreats and gatherings over the years. They are the hours spent in each others’ company through good times and bad. They are the words spoken between us over coffee, tea and wine, sharing meals, ideas and feelings.

All these things we carry in our hearts until the next time we meet. Be it tomorrow or next year. Nothing is lost or forgotten. Retreat is forever!