Monthly Archives: April 2014

Cats LOVE Quilts – What’s Up With That?

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Other readers send comments comfirming that their cats seem to “own” any quilt their humans work on.  Here are Curry and Saffron/Butch perched on a newly completed wall hanging I had folded and placed on my cutting table the night before.

Why do you think cats love quilts?

Well, quilts are warm…

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quilts are soft.

 

The quilt may have been hair-free until the cats discovered it so its their job to make it look broken in.

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And best of all, it is where the human(s) put a lot of energy, time and value so it is the best place for a cat to seek attention.

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And the fabric stash is a GREAT place to hide for a secluded nap.

Best of all for this human is that the cats are a lot of company on my quilting journey.

Do you have pet helpers?

~~~Have a terrific week!

 

Machine Quilting on an Unfamiliar Machine – My Heart is With My Pfaff!

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I’m starting a new addition to this blog: a photo of the week on Fridays.

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This Friday’s photo is from last evening.  I asked my husband to take a photo of me with the quilt rolled and wrapped over my shoulder to allow me to work directly on the actual machine quilting.  As you can see, I was working HARD on the machine quilting. Honestly, there are so many steps to create and complete a quilt!

This is a gift quilt about the size of a twin bed.  This purple and teal quilt is a” slightly late” birthday gift for my daughter Tenley. She is a wonderful 35 year old now with two darling little boys. a job, a home to care for  and a cool husband. Tenley is brave and strong and funny and loving.  She and her husband Todd work hard with their little family in a small community east of Portland, Oregon.

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Recently my beloved Pfaff sewing machine developed a problem that is going to be repaired in about a month when I see my Pfaff technician.  In the meantime, a quilting friend loaned me her back-up machine.  A very kind thing to do.  Thank you Lorraine.

In the photo above, the comical owls you can see on the far left – well, that is really soft flannel backing which the grandchildren will love.  The front is more elegant and structured.  All of my love being poured into this quilt will be on Tenley’s lap through future winters, wrapped around her with the boys on her lap.  How better could a grandmother show that her love is constant from Ecuador, just as it was in Oregon?

 I am taking this quilt on an airplane when I go to visit in a few weeks.  

 

 

 

my heart lives in two places – more

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my heart lives in two places – more

I wrote a few weeks ago about the interesting split I feel after choosing to leave my country of birth (the USA) for an exciting, new experience in my retirement years in Cuenca, Ecuador.  Well, I have a few more thoughts to share. My husband and I launched ourselves on an incredible cultural journey about 3 years ago. We live permanently in Cuenca, Ecuador.  We visit the US every 6 – 12 months to see family and friends.  We also stock up on a few things important to us that are not available in Ecuador.  What, you ask?  Things like all cotton quilting fabric, gluten-free products, new hi tech products, good socks, yeah, just little stuff important in our daily lives.

I continue to feel strongly supportive of the US, although I am very disillusioned to the point of desperation about the intractable problems with things like:  how to get the elected officials to work together as adults instead of viscious bickering . There need to be real answers for the BIG issues: homeless children who go to sleep hungry every night, not enough jobs, rebuilding infrastructure to keep the country “running” properly, stop the favors to medical drug companies and encourage real healing among the population in a way that does not create drug-dependency.

Let me be clear: I love the beliefs of the US that I grew up with, ideas like:  you can be anything you want to be if you work hard, for example.  The US is one place people used to get ahead without stomping on others as you “climb up” to be solidly middle class.

Use just what you need

replace yourself and then stop – the world population is staggering

I raised my children with these goals as well: reuse, recycle, replace

 

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do NOT just think of yourself!

look for the best in each person you meet

treasure the earth

quilt in progress for master bed

The US financial “down spiral” of the past few years left many who had been solidly middle class in a terrible fix – loss of home, loss of job, horrendous stresses on family as their hold on a common lifestyle slipped out of their grasp, causing health problems, battered self-confidence, hopelessness, etc.

My heart aches for solutions to be found.

My current country of residence, Ecuador, has a high rate of poverty, a definite class division, “favors” may be paid (bribery) to get things done but this is no longer the preferred way. Ecuador stands with a foot in the “old ways” of priviledge, wealth and class difference, but with the other foot in a new place.  The second foot rests, teetering among growing equality, increasing minimum wage, social security benefits for working citizens, attempts to ban money laundering, and successful exports of bananas (if you are eating a banana, it probably was grown in Ecudor!), among a few other successful exports.

There has been a disappointingly low national effort in Ecuador to preserve endangered species and protect the environment… and some dawning awareness of what it might take to move the country into an improved global vision.

I love the tenative steps Ecuador is taking toward parity for all citizens, a growing attempt to create a livable wage for people, which is still a way off but at least it is on the agenda. Also the focus on improving roads and services within the country, taking a tough stance on drug smugglers who bring drugs into Ecuador from Columbia and Peru across shared borders and by sea. These illegal drugs are on their way to the US.  Because of demand in the US.   Stop the demand for cocaine, for example, by US users and Columbia’s drug business would be severely wounded.

So every nation has problems.

 

Where is my heart, really?  Both places!  I love visits back to magestic Oregon, rustic Idaho and fast-paced California. Holding a young grandchild or talking with the two older grandchildren is priceless.  I catch up.  My heart nestles, creating memories.  The relationship with each of the 4 grandchildren blossoms and stretches.  But at the same time, I am ripped apart because I leave soon.  So soon.

And yet… when I return to Ecuador, I know I am “home”.  My heart lives with my children and grandchildren in Oregon and California.  I think of each of my loved ones, friends and family members, every day.  But my husband Lenny and I are happy to have joined a small community of like-minded people in Cuenca and reside in their midst. We cherish this opportunity to learn about a very different culture.  The few Cuencano friends we have made are cherished. They share time, interests, family with us and seem pleased that we love the city of Cuenca and Ecuadorians in general.

My cats and Spanish studies, the quilts and exercise are all ongoing, absorbing activities.  Lenny pursues interests he never had enough time to improve, such as Spanish, duplicate bridge and photography. Our plans to explore other parts or South America shimmer on the horizon.

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Yes, my heart lives in more than one place, never to be completely grounded in just one country again. And it is really ok.  One’s heart expands to accomodate the demand and opportunities life lays in our path.

What is your journey?  Enjoy where you are today.

Sharon

One goal: live freshly and simply

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One goal: live freshly and simply

Quote by

  • Eleanor Roosevelt
    “In the long run, we shape our lives, and we shape ourselves. The process never ends until we die. And the choices we make are ultimately our own responsibility.”

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At the age of 64, my goal became more clearly: to prepare fresh, natural foods in my own home.  No packaged stuff.  Go to restaurants rarely. I feel better if I eat a little fish or chicken, lots of fresh vegetables, small amounts of a great variety of fruits. I make almost everything I eat myself, leaving out the things that cause inflammation and irritates arthritis/fibromyalgia, such as wheat sugar or caffeine.  ~~~Good goal.~~~  Sometimes hard to achieve.

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Things are not very difficult here: organic markets offer cheaper, fresher produce,

I am retired so I have time to prepare healthy food,

but of course planning, planning, planning is required all the time.

Another “fresh and simple lifestyle” goal is to interrupt the “consume-consume-consume” obsession that is a way of life in the US. People LOVE to buy cosas – things – whether they are really needed or not.  Ask yourself: do I really need this?  Wait 24-48 hours and see if you still need it so badly.

A women who writes on another blog  radicalfarmwives.com  shared this:

“People’s lives get woven together.  The influence of our parents, partners, children, and friends all get bound, tight or loose, smooth or bumpy, together into the fabric that becomes our life.”

I love those thoughts.  Life is fluid, changing, moving like a river.  You can stand on the side and passively watch the river flow …or you can jump into the swirling current and swim with the whole experience.  What’s it going to be?  What do you feel like doing today?  Keep things simple.  Pare down and trim to your most important, treasured activities.  Make strokes to simplify your life while treasuring each moment you can.  Each interaction.  Each glimpse of nature or art.  Experience your world!

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Move!

Sing.

Dance by yourself in the moonlight!

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One of my treasured activities has become “an active meditation “for me: quilting.

The process of laying out a piece of fabric, smoothing out the folds, cutting off the edges, trimming to create, pinning to sew, seeing each small creation and happily anticipating what the whole will look like. Sure, some days the thread tension is off on my borrowed machine, there are times when a block I make looks crooked and I have to rip the seams out – I HATE that.  But ripping seams is part of the rhythm of live.  Breathe.  Resew straight seams and accept some crooked ones.  Move on in the process of  your life.  You get a chance to “do over” the things you don’t feel good about, if you have the courage to take it.

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LIVE each day, even in quiet, simple ways. A deep breath exhaled slowly.  A moment to admire the texture of a flower.  The feel of warm water streaming over your hands.

Have a great new week!